When it comes to making a plate of food, the majority of people have what is commonly known as portion distortion. It is difficult to eat correct portions, given that we live in a culture that encourages over-eating. Eating over-sized portions can make you sluggish, overweight, and deplete your overall energy. The reason you may be missing an evening workout session or falling asleep at the movies after dinner is because all your energy is spent digesting the dinosaur portion you ate. It’s time to rid yourself of the restaurant-sized mentality and be on your way to a healthier, leaner, more energetic lifestyle.
How do you know what the right portion is? One of the most common ways to gauge your portions is via hand symbols. While hand symbols usually apply to meals that include meat, there are vegetarian and vegan meals that can follow the hand symbols as well. While it is common to read the labels, they are not always the most honest. A lot of companies will report inaccurate information about the serving sizes or fat content on certain foods you purchase. It’s best to direct your attention to making meals that will give you the most nutrition, for example, fresh fruits and colorful salads, or raw nuts and seeds. Your body doesn’t need to work overtime by processing meat, dairy, or junk food just to keep you awake throughout the day. Processed foods and highly acidic foods can lead to improper blood flow. A healthy circulatory system is key for proper bodily functions, which is why you should never eat anything out of the bag. It’s better to focus on eating an apple, for instance. Trust us, it’s worth it.
If you eat smaller portions, your body maintains neutral levels. The best way to limit your food intake is to drink 16oz of water before you eat. This will control your appetite and help digestion. A lot of people overeat because they aren’t properly hydrated. Overeating can be hard on the digestive tract and can cause your blood sugar to spike or plummet. When you digest food, glucose is steadily released into your bloodstream and the body in turn releases insulin, which allows glucose to enter into cells for energy storage. A large meal results in a large insulin production, which clears glucose from the bloodstream. This results in what is commonly known as a crash. This is when you say goodbye to activity and hello to the couch. Get out of this routine by eating smaller meals throughout the day. Additionally, you can eat healthy snacks between meals and after workouts. By eating healthy snacks, which are 200 calories or less, between meals, your appetite won’t be out of control when it’s time to eat a main meal. One thing to keep in mind is that you will be less likely to eat a lot if you have to work for your food. Oranges, pistachios, or edamame are foods that provide nutrients, but make you work for them.
The best way to maintain the correct portions is to eat your meals in a small salad bowl. This doesn’t mean that you should make a food mountain that is one false move away from falling on the floor. Keep your meals contained within the bowl and eat foods like vegetable salads, nuts, seeds, or fruit to stay alert and to avoid high blood sugar levels. Slowing the pace at which you eat or chewing slower can help too. A great way to set the mood for a slower-paced meal is to dim the lights, as this creates a more relaxing ambiance. Avoid second helpings and split a meal when you go out to eat. Also, don’t aim to be 100% full. The people of Okinawa, Japan practice being 80% full, and they are some of the longest living people on the planet. They live long because of calorie restriction, in addition to high consumption of fruits and vegetables.
There are a few tips to remember that help you control your portions. Try eating with chopsticks, which will help you eat slower, or hold your utensil in your non-dominant hand; so if you’re a righty, eat with your left hand. Never go to the grocery store when you’re hungry because that leads to impulse purchases of items that are usually addicting and bad for you. Make a list for the grocery store, as this will help remind you to get the necessary items. Don’t watch television or movies when you sit down to eat a meal because this diverts the attention span and extends the meal, even after you’re finished eating. The shows lead to binge-eating and ignite a feeling that more food is necessary. You don’t want to end up staring aimlessly into a cupboard or refrigerator, waiting for something to grab your attention. Be mindful when you sit down to eat and portion control will become a reality.