In today’s world of ‘super’ and ‘king’ size food portions it is easy to lose sight of how much we should actually be eating. The average portion size has increased by a massive 25-50% over the past 30 years!
Even if you are eating a relatively healthy meal, a large portion can exceed your calorie allowance. Portion Distortion is very common but there are some guidelines and tricks you can use to avoid over loading on food.
Growing up with a distorted view of a ‘normal’ size meal has falsely trained your brain into estimating the amount of food it will take to ‘fill you up’. Even just cutting out 15-20% of what you normally serve yourself will help enormously in weight management and your brain will soon make the connection between a smaller meal and feeling full.
Also it’s important to be aware that ‘low fat’ doesn’t always mean ‘low calorie’. A food can be low in fat but contain a lot of sugar, which would make it high calorie.
• People tend to overeat when they leave a long time between meals. This means you are ravenous by the time you eat and therefore eat way too much. Smaller, more regular meals will avoid this and naturally help portion control.
• Pre-packaged meals usually have guidelines as to how many portions they consist of. Pay attention to these (obviously a meal for two should not be eaten by you alone on a Friday night in front of Friends), but also use your brain. Some of these so-called ‘single servings’ are still too large. If the meal looks huge, think with your brain, not with your greed and eat less of it.
• Don’t be seduced by the ‘value’ of ‘super-size’ offers or meal deals. You might feel like you’re getting a bargain on a massive drink or meal but you’re probably still spending more than you would buying a smaller size, and you simply end up eating or drinking more calories, fat and sugar and this will lead to weight gain.
• If you’re the type of person who has to polish off every morsel on their plate make sure you use a smaller plate and don’t overload it in the first place. Then you can finish it all off without worrying.
• Fill half of your plate with the healthy stuff like vegetables or salad first, then add the protein (e.g. meat, fish) and finally the starch (e.g. potatoes, pasta) portions.
• Measure out salad dressings, mayonnaise and sauces in spoons – you will use less than if you simply pour them over.
• If you’re feeling ravenous then drink a large glass of water with every meal – this is great for your digestion and will also help you to feel full.
• Never eat your meals in front of the TV. Studies have shown that those who don’t watch TV whilst eating eat less - so turn the TV off. Focusing on enjoying your meal will help you to stop eating when you are full – distractions will make it less likely that you will notice when you are full.
• When you’ve finished your meal clear your place immediately. If you continue to sit at the table with excess food in front of you, you will be more tempted to start eating again.