A major issue (in my eyes) concerning weight loss and health, is the subject of portion control. Once upon a time I was guilty of this. I mean why have a slice of cake, when you can have a dirty big wedge? Why have a scoop of mashed potato, when you can have something resembling a volcano on your plate? And why have a grating of cheese, when a slab is better on a cracker? When it came to portion control, I was ridiculously off the scale. Not only was I generous to myself, but to others including my family who were lured to my food. The problem was, that once I started my healthy eating regime and actually weighing stuff, my stomach and brain had some serious shrinkage to do.
As I discovered more on my journey, I realised I was not the only one with a warped sense of portion control. I would ask random people, what they thought a portion was, and they too were guilty as charged. In fact they were so shocked that one woman immediately went out and bought a set of scales. Like many others, she just went along with what her parents had put on her plate, and carried on the way she was brought up. Another startling fact was that many people felt they had to clear their dinner plates. This is another habit from their childhood. Phrases from their parents like “don’t you leave any food on your plate or it will block my sink” and “you won’t get any after’s (dessert) unless you finish every mouthful.” It appears that many people were influenced by their parents. The notion of stopping when they were full, did not come to mind.
One group of people who spring to my mind was the school dinner ladies. My goodness, they were cracking cooks, and I shall fondly remember the Manchester Tart and custard, which was definitely adult sized portions than that for a child. Was I going to complain? Was I heck as like! School dinners especially in primary school (before they were stopped) were so delicious. I’ve always had a healthy appetite, and will pretty much eat anything. So the generous school dinner lady portions of dinner were given a big thumbs up from me. In fact, one lady was so wonderful that she would always give me a little bit more. I liked her a lot! The only time I wasn’t keen on the dinner ladies, was when we were given bottles of milk to drink with straws at morning break time. It was full cream milk, and when the bottles were warm in the summer, I could positively feel my stomach lurching. It is one food memory I would have happily had no portion of!
So what is a portion? How do you know what amounts you should eat? Most foods have a guideline on the packaging. This gives you all the details such as what qualifies as a portion, along with calories, fats, sugars etc. Not enough people pay attention to this. However turning to portion control, I wanted to do an experiment. Below is a photo of two bowls of shreddies. The one on the left is how many people fill the bowl at 80g. The one on the right is the correct 40g portion.
The next photo shows a 75g uncooked portion of whole-wheat pasta. Most people eat double this amount. Taking calories from what should be around 257 calories (75g) to 514 calories (150g).
You can begin to see, that if we keep doubling up portions at each meal, how we can be overeating and soon have weight issues. When on my “Health Is Your Wealth” eating regime, the first thing I suggest to people is to actually weigh out what they are eating. This can be a real shock at first, but a real benefit as to how weight has been added without much thought.
I remember the first time I decided to weigh out guideline amounts of for food myself. I must have spent ten minutes shaking the scales, hoping and praying that there was some mistake and fault with them. There wasn’t. The scales were accurate, it was my head not wanting to accept what a correct portion amount was, that was wrong. Interestingly, once my body adjusted to the proper portion amount, I no longer felt hungry. Although at the beginning of my regime and exercising portion control, I could have easily snapped. Willpower is vital, but if you crack it, you will feel the benefits. It is all about removing the previous habits of portion size, and replacing those habits with your new lifestyle. It isn’t easy, because over generous amounts seem to be woven into us. I can only encourage you by saying that once you do get used to it, your body feels less burdened with the digestion of food, and you end up feeling more comfortable.
Most people are not good with portion control, when it comes to healthy stuff either. They think 3 peas on a plate is a portion, and one sprig of broccoli is another. I shall be looking at getting more than your 5 a day later on in this journey, but what is noted, is that we are more generous with naughty food than the truly good stuff.
Making sure you eat enough and don’t starve yourself is another subject. People crash diet and this sends the body into chaos. It doesn’t work long-term ladies and gents. This is a whole subject of its own, which again, I shall be writing about very soon. Your first goal at present, is to modify your current amounts of food you are eating. So if say your cereal bowl is overflowing, start with altering that. Slow and steady wins the race. Win over small changes, and you are more likely to continue the plan and make other positive steps.
The information that you should look out for on the packaging is similar to below. Some food companies are extremely good, and give even greater detail. Make yourself familiar with these boxes of information. Check the calorie content. Even some healthy foods have a high calorie content, so it is then that you need to check how much saturated fats, and everything else there is. Not all fats are bad, but this is another subject which will be covered in future. It is about striking balances and making better choices for you and your body.