Portion Control…I know, most people don’t like to hear these two words together, especially if you’ve just had a big dinner or eaten too many Tim Tams!
You’re not alone if you struggle with having just one square of chocolate, or you tend to put a bit more on your plate (usually carbs) because you skipped lunch and you’re starving!
But it isn’t as hard as you think to get into the habit of controlling your portion size. You’ll learn to become more aware of your body and to listen to your body in a more positive way. You’ll become more conscious of how much you’re putting on your plate and how you feel after eating – over full or just content. When you eat healthy, balanced portions you will find you lose weight and also keep it off in the long term!
Here are a few ideas you can try to get your portion size under control and to make some positive, healthy changes:
- Start by eating your meals and snacks slower. Put your knife and fork down after each mouthful, chew it about 20 times before picking up your cutlery again. If you eat your food slower, you will feel fuller faster, and be less likely to eat the whole plate. It takes your brain about 20 mins to register you are full, so enjoy each mouthful!
- Don’t feel you have to eat everything on your plate. Lots of people are brought up to eat everything on their plate, otherwise they can’t leave the table or miss out on desert. You’re an adult, you can make your own decisions now! If you’re feeling full, stop. Leave what you don’t want on the plate. Save it for lunch the next day and serve up a smaller portion next time.
- Use a smaller plate! How often are your eyes bigger than your stomach? You want to trick your eyes into thinking you have a plate full of food. Scientists have confirmed that for the majority of people the brain takes visual cues when it comes to eating. If you fill a smaller plate with goodness, enjoy eating it, you will feel more satisfied and not overfull.
- Why not serve up what you would normally eat then put half on another plate. Eat the first plate slowly. If you are still REALLY hungry after 30 mins, go and eat half of the other plate you served up. If not, put the left overs in the fridge for the next day.
- Speaking of left overs, if you’re making a larger batch so you have lunch for the next day (great idea by the way!), serve up your dinner and put the left overs in a container and straight in the fridge so you aren’t tempted to go back for seconds after your first plate is finished.
- Are you an over eater? Maybe it’s because you skip meals and you’re starving. If this is you it’s time to have smaller meals or snacks more often so you keep your blood sugar levels even, you don’t starve, and then over-eat. Even if it’s a few nuts or seeds as a snack.
- If you want to fill up some space on your plate, fill it with salad – spinach, mixed lettuce, cucumber, carrots, sprouts etc.
- I’m not into measuring food and portions (eg 150gms, 1 cup etc), it’s way too time consuming, and annoying! What I do believe in is being conscious of the size you serve up. Be conscious of making the portion smaller, of how you feel after eating (over full, full, content – just enough, still hungry) and make adjustments at your next meal or snack.
Back to the chocolate …. so you have trouble stopping at one square of chocolate: Before you know it you’ve eaten 4-5 rows or even the whole block! If this is you, ask how do you feel afterwards. Pretty rubbish I’m guessing! If so, remember how you feel so next time you reach for the chocolate (and you keep reaching for it), think about how you felt last time!! More often than not you wont want to go down that path again!
Always try and buy dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate is richer in taste and you’ll find it fills you up faster without the extra load of sugar.
With all the scenarios above it’s probably more about emotional or stress eating, or having a sugar craving rather than eating because you’re actually hungry. This is when the listening to your body comes into play as well… ask yourself: ‘Why am I eating these sugary foods?’ , try and find an solution to the reason. More about this in future blogs.
What I do is make my own! This would also be a great alternative over Easter, so that you don’t feel you are missing out on chocolate when everyone is tucking into some Easter eggs!
I fill my chocolate snacks full of goodness! Here’s my favourite Chocolate-Ball recipe!
What do you need:
- 1 cup of pitted medjool dates (you can use the dried pitted dates too if you want!)
- 1 cup of nuts (you can activate them by soaking them overnight) – I usually use a mixture of almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews
- 1/3 cup of raw organic cacao powder (I use Loving Earth)
- 1/3 Cup coconut oil (best if it is soft)
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/3 cup of goji berries
- 1/3 cup mixed seeds – sunflower and pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Add all the ingredients into a food processor and process until it is all blended together and sticking together.
- Spoon out a bit of the mixture and roll between your hands and place on a plate. Don’t make them too big, about the size of a 20 cent piece is ideal.
- Store in the fridge for at least 30mins. Once set, you can transfer them to a container, but still keep them in the fridge. Because of the coconut oil, they will tend to melt if it gets a bit warm!
Another thing to keep in mind, is that you can actually over eat healthy foods too.
For example: if you are having almonds or other nuts as a snack – 20 would be too much! Try 10 over the day instead. You can serve them out, put them on your desk and eat them slowly!
Another example is avocado. One avocado a day is a bit much. I usually recommend half an avocado a day, but break it up throughout the day, some for breakfast, some for lunch and some for dinner. This will help to get your good fats into each meal.
Watching your good carbs portions is a smart idea too, as you can also over do them. For example, look for a sweet potato about the size of your fist. If you are having brown rice or quinoa, a serving the size of the palm of your hand is fine (not piled high though!). If you have wheat-free pasta or rice noodles, measure a handful cooked (not raw!)
If you enjoy eating out, don’t worry, there are plenty of options:
- Ask for salad or veggies, rather than chips
- Ask for the dressing and sauces on the side
- Share a desert if you want to treat yourself
- Have a peppermint tea instead of a latte. (It aids digestion)
Yours in good health