My previous two blogs talked of the concept of Mindful eating and how mindless Eating can be harmful. In my second blog, I talked of why should you eat slowly to enjoy your meal (https://goqii.com/blog/mindful-eating-slow-down-and-enjoy-your-meal-2/) and shared some tips on how can you eat slowly. Continuing in this 5 Part series on Mindful Eating, Today, I will take you through portion control and why is portion control a must.
Appetite is complex and dieting is a challenge.
With every passing year it gets more harrowing. We end up blaming the food industry which has, over the years, increased portions per package and per serving size by whopping 2-7 times than recommended value. And, mostly these take away food products and dishes themselves don’t fit in a healthy eating plan.
Mindful eating is the key to fix this chaos. For when we can’t change anyone else (read: food industry) we can still change ourselves.
The art of being in present when you are eating your food is termed as Mindful eating. Eating mindfully has tremendous benefits- you really learn to taste food and realize your real favourites and dislike thus knowing what foods best fuel your exercise, work and leisure. If you enjoy eating or your food experience, you tend to enjoy life better. The by-product of this mindfulness is also a healthy weight loss and maintenance, and even reversal of lifestyle disorders.
Among the many advantages of this healthy practice my favourite one is- Learning to eat when hungry and stop when full, so avoiding overeating at any given time. I have maintained my weight for years by effectively practicing portion control.
This is difficult, yet the easiest way to lose weight, keep it off and moreover, it’s a lifestyle change, something that can change this whole obesity epidemic. We all struggle with food. This may be the solution to eating our favourite food, yet controlling the portions and being fair to our bodies.
Portion control is easily achieved when you slow down your pace of eating. When you eat slowly you become aware of when your stomach gets full and you also know how much to serve yourself and when to stop. Portion size and eating speed can be well explained through the famous ‘French Paradox’ which says that despite high intake of calorie-rich and fatty foods in France as compared to the US, the incidence of heart disease and overweight is relatively low in France.
It is well-documented fact that the French eat much slower than the Americans thus ending up taking smaller portions. Sensible eating, therefore, works miraculously for the weight-watchers.
In this blog, I am sharing some good tricks and hacks that will help you prevent over eating and the need to diet ever.
When you first go through the list, pick up only 2 tasks which you can practice as your healthy habits. As you succeed, take up new ones gradually and implement them consistently to build in mindful eating approach for life.
Here’s how to practice portion control-
A) At home or for your regular eating
- Replace your food plates to small plates or use a side plate as your main plate. The food portion has grown bigger, by choosing a small plate (law of size-metrics) you will reduce your consumption.
- Serve backwards- visualize your plate has 2 compartments. First fill up one half of it with veggies, both raw and cooked and then serve other half of your plate with portion of proteins (dal/curd) and carbs (rice/roti) combined. Eating veggies make you feel full so serving it first on your plate and eating in larger portion quickly drives up the fullness quotient.
- Sit Down to eat- even if it is a snack. You are making your meal more organized by sitting down when dining and this habit will prevent on the go munching that you may be un-knowingly overdoing.
- Deep breathe- before you start your meal. This works as ‘ringing the bell’ –brings your attention to your next to-do task which is feeding yourself. Gently Inhale through nose, filling your chest with air, drawing your shoulder upwards and exhale through mouth for a little longer. Now take your first bite or sip.
- Dine! Don’t multitask- Eating while watching TV or while fiddling with your cell phone will distract you from your meal. And distraction will lead to over consumption. Put away all gadgets while eating and you’ll be surprised that going back to your smart phone after 20 minutes is so refreshing. Plus, the added bonus of having a satisfying meal.
- Have liquid first- A glass of water or a bowl of healthy soup. Starting your meal with fluids will fill up your belly to prevent over eating. It will irrigate the lining of your digestive tract making your meals easier to flow down. And, probably quench your thirst which may be the real reason behind your rumbling belly.
- Eat slowly- to finish a meal in no less than 20 minutes. You may realize you don’t need the second helping if you eat your meals slowly.
- Get Smart with leftovers: Because no one is judging how clean your plate is. If you are done with dinner, don’t stuff yourself just so that you don’t have to pack up the remaining food. Wrapping up remaining food is a smart way (as leftovers taste better too!) or downsizing your cooking is another idea to prevent over consumption.
- Snack from a bowl– and not from a bag or box. You may end up eating 50% more if the snack, you are having, is hidden from your view. Pour a serving in a bowl and then munch.
#And if you buy a bag of trail mix that reads 10 servings, divide the contents of the bag into 10 smaller bags or label it bold- ‘to be finished in 10 attempts’.
- Out of sight-out of mouth- Keep tempting treats- chips, cookies, and candies, ice creams out of sight – high up in the kitchen cabinet or in the back line of the pantry shelf. Putting a fruit bowl, dark chocolate, dates and nuts in the front row and in reach easily gets you to practice snacking.
- Follow IN/OUT rule: When at home, the rule is to eat nutritious, balanced and wholesome meals avoiding all treats (White Sugar/breads/pastas/creamy desserts and fried foods). When outside treat yourself to your favourite delicacies (but in moderation lest you slip down the slope). This way you will be able to eat super healthy most of the time and the occasional indulgences will soothe your soul.
Here are few suggestions to practice portion control outside home
When dining out-
- Plan Ahead- Right when you start from home, put up a portion in head- “I’ll have only 2 glass of wine today”, “I’ll eat only 1 plate of pasta tonight”. When a plan is there, you only need to work on your determination during the action, so it makes sense to make a quick portion note prior to stepping out.
- Survey the spread first (or read menu carefully)- By getting a sense of what are the foods available, you avoid heaping on excess of usual offerings because you didn’t realize earlier -the ‘can’t miss items’ were at the end of the line. So make your plate with intention and eat only what you really want to eat.
- Order to serve your salad or soup first and entree only after the appetizers are done with. A lot of food on table and in sight will promote over eating.
- Split and Share –the entrée with your dining partner, but If eating alone, try doubling up your appetizer and skipping the main course altogether.
- Indulge wisely- If you intend to end your meal with drinks or dessert, eat only half of your capability. Yes, it’s your treat meal! But, a firm moderation now will prevent you from guilt trip later.
- Split and share desserts too- or skip it totally and order yourself an un-sweetened coffee/hot beverage to end the meal. Some metabolic push there! Plus you can always have a cube of dark chocolate when you reach home.
- If Ice cream melts you away-Choose inedible dishes- say a cup over a cone, as your ice cream serving dish. Or if cone gets you carried away, choose a kiddie, regular or sugar cone, as waffle cone will increase your portion considerably. Avoid toppings or go for fruit based ones.
- Tall and slim- Research says drinking from tall and slim glass will cut down portion of your drink by 20%, and so does avoiding exotic mixed liquor drinks. It’s that easy!
- And if you are travelling- Avoid heading to a restaurant directly. Instead take a pit stop at a fruit vendor first. A healthy snack before a meal will not spoil it, but help you portion mindfully.
Eating in moderation and compensating with a good round (or extra round) of exercising keeps one in balance. Avoid Overeating and practice mindfulness- your ideal weight is just this one healthy habit away!
In my fourth blog tomorrow, I shall talk about emotional eating. Very often we find ourselves overeating or better to say indulge in mindless eating such as stress eating. Too happy indulge in over eating, too sad again indulge in over eating to feel good. The blog will take you through some pointers on how to avoid stress eating and satisfy your needs with mindfulness.
To be continued………….