13 June 2017Portion Control School Dropout? Try These P's and Q's

Have you already made many positive lifestyle changes, such as climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator and eating hummus and baby carrots for your healthy afternoon snack instead of chips or a candy bar, and still do not see the pounds dropping off? If so, perhaps, you need to focus on portion control and decrease the amount of what you eat and drink each day - this even includes healthy foods.

"Can I gain weight by eating healthy foods?" one of my weight loss clients asked me recently. The answer is "yes". Since calories are calories regardless of what food source they are from, you can overeat on scrumptious watermelon on a hot summer day or succulent corn on the cob at a 4th of July picnic as well as dangerously delicious donuts and fatty French fries. Thus, regardless of what you are eating, follow these three P's and two Q's to prevent from being a portion control school dropout.

Three P's to Portion Control

1. Partner up during your restaurant meals

We all have seen how the portion sizes at restaurants have grown significantly over the past few years as well as the frequency that Americans eat out. Even though calorie labeling on restaurant menus can help you make informed and healthful decisions, many meals contain more calories than a person should consume in a day let alone in a single meal. Thus, by asking for an extra plate when you order and sharing meal, you will find it is not only better for your waistline, it's also better for your pocketbook.

Last night after a hike, my husband and I shared one restaurant meal which included a plate of barbecued ribs infused with tea, four cups of French fries, and a small cup of coleslaw. Not only were we full, but we had leftover ribs to bring home to our hungry college-aged daughter.

2. Pre-hydrate with two glasses of water.

If you are going out for drinks, quench your thirst up front with two glasses of water. By pre-hydrating, you can first satisfy your thirst desire with calorie free water and then truly enjoy the taste of one glass of your favorite beverage, whether beer, soda, wine, or a mixed drink.

3. Pace yourself and Pause

Train your body to slow down. Since it can take 15-20 minutes for your body's satiety signals to travel from your stomach to your brain, slow down the eating process. If you are used to quickly gulping down a meal, set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes. Pace yourself to slow down so that you do not finish your meal before the timer rings. Try eating with chopsticks or your non-dominant hand to increase your mindfulness while eating. When our children were younger, to switch things up, I used to make a "toothpick lunch" in which I cut up everything in small pieces about the size of a dice and put it on a small plate. My girls would then use a toothpick instead of silverware to eat pieces of cut up ham, broccoli, strawberries, cheese, and tortillas. The girls were having so much fun that they slowed down and didn't even know they were eating a balanced meal with foods from all five food groups.

Two Q's to Portion Control

1. Quantify your food.

One assignment that students completed when I taught a five-week weight loss class at a local community college was to weigh and measure all foods and beverages consumed over a period of three days. They kept a food diary and then calculate the calories for each portion.

Since this was an online class, each student had to photograph themselves using a measuring cup, measuring spoons or a scale to demonstrate that they were not just eye-balling the portion size but actually accurately measuring each food item. Yes, peanut butter needed to be leveled using the flat side of a knife so that the amount wasn't a heaping tablespoon.

Three high calorie foods which surprised the students were:

Frozen Meals:

A frozen meal is often two servings instead of one, so the students needed to double the calories on the nutrition facts label.

Specialty coffee drinks:

Some flavored coffee drinks provided one third of the calories needed for the day.

Chips and Nuts: One fourth to one half cup of chips or nuts on average contain at least 200 calories. Who stops at just one handful?

Ready to be a student again? If so, your assignment for this week, is to measure and weigh everything you eat and drink for three days and enter it into MyNetDiary to calculate the calories and vitamins and minerals each food contains. Which foods surprised you?

2. Quit beating yourself up.

Even if you have had a bad day of eating, don't beat yourself up and run 20 miles, start a juice cleanse or starve yourself the next day. Remember food is just food and that tomorrow is a new day. Weight loss, similar to success in life, is about being persistent, giving yourself a positive pep talk and picking yourself up, remembering that tomorrow has a plethora of possibilities.

To summarize, if you are feeling like a portion control school dropout, mind these three P's (partner up, pre-hydrate, and pace and pause) and two Q's (quantify and quit beating yourself up) to gain control over the amount of food that you eat and beverages that you drink.

In good health,
Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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