Portion Control

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.IMG_1302.jpg

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).

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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.

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When Junk Food Sprung Up

Junk food is practically everywhere.  Such is our appetite for fast food to go with our fast living, that it is rare now to find a location, that does not have a takeaway or fast food joint in it.

What is interesting was that growing up as a child in the 70’s, we would have the local chip shop and the odd Chinese takeaway business, but ready meals to buy in shops were so extortionate, that only the “well off” people could afford it.  Fast forward to today, and you now find the opposite.  Ready meals are geared towards those with a limited income, plus there are so many takeaway options which can be ordered from your sofa, without having to move a muscle.

There is no doubt in my mind, that this junk food explosion is going to have a damaging effect especially on this young generation.  Food laden with fats, sugars, salt and additives are like a killer cocktail, because people cannot seem to stop their constant desire for it.

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Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

So how do you stop this junk food epidemic?  The simple answer is,  with great difficulty.  The people I have helped have had one thing in common, and that is that they are addicted.  I have noticed with many of them, that their taste buds seem unable to pick up delicate flavours, and they seem only excited by bad ingredients.

The answer is a complicated one, which has had many a person scratching their heads for many years.  Is better education in schools the answer?  To some degree it is.  Although the lure of teenagers going with their mates to the burger bars is always going to be there.  Is taxing such establishments the answer?  I have found that if someone wants to eat it, then they will find the money to buy it no matter what.  What about the traffic light and calorie info on foods?  Yes it is useful to the people who understand it, but to many it still appears confusing.  Plus some just don’t care.  They could have a set of red traffic lights and warnings, and still eat it no matter what.

For me and why I am not a fast food fan, has been all about having the knowledge of what some of the ingredients used can do to your body.  This information has to some degree helped people get on a healthier eating regime.  However, they have got to want to know.  Like the old saying says, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink.  I like to use simple ABC language too.  Nothing over medical which is not easy to understand.  For example with diabetics, many do not know the problems they could face, so I just lay it bare to them, that they could go blind and have limbs removed.  It is less about dancing around the bush and more laying it down straight.  I am never sure as to why in the UK we faff about with getting to the facts.  Maybe more hard-hitting campaigns is one of the answers.  I think there will be  proportion of people who want to be helped, but sadly a massive section of society that don’t.  Cheap, convenient and quick will always be the way for them.  That is a real problem.  However, the more people engage with healthy eating the more I find jump on the band wagon.  Surely that can only be a good thing?

 

Vegetable Chilli

Whilst on my health and fitness regime, I am enjoying making dishes that are not just filling and satisfying but super tasty too.  This vegetable chilli is great for any guests that you may have, that are vegan or vegetarian, plus it is a lighter style of chilli for the summer months.

Please note that honey is optional.  I use a brand of tinned cherry tomatoes that are quite sharp and acidic.  I use a small amount of honey to balance the flavours out.  If your tinned tomatoes are more mellow, then you will not need to use honey.  I also added in a few mushrooms that I had left over.  Those who know me, know that I hate food waste, so if you have any other veggies such as courgette etc, do not be afraid to mix and match.

Calories were approx 420 cals – this was with 60g of Brown rice with Quinoa, which I find more filling than white rice.

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Ingredients – SERVES 2

Small spray of fry light in a wok or non stick pan.
1 Onion
1 Clove of garlic
1 tsp Garam Masala
Pinch of Chilli Flakes – if you like hot food add more
1/2 Red pepper slices
1/2 Green pepper slices
1 Tin of chopped tomatoes
1 Vegetable stock cube in 150 mls of water
1 400g Tin of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Optional: Mushrooms/Courgettes – 1 tbsp of runny honey (see note above)

Heat your wok/pan and spray with a little fry light.  Then add your onions and garlic and heat through until the onion begins to soften, making sure that you keep moving the mixture so the onions don’t go brown. Is using any mushrooms add them at this stage.

Add the garam masala and chilli flakes and mix in for a minute or so.  Then add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, peppers and kidney beans.  If using soft veggies like courgette etc. add them at this stage too.

Allow the mixture to bubble, making sure that you stir occasionally.  The mixture will eventually reduce down so you have a nice sauce.  It might take 15 minutes or longer.  I will often make this up in advance, and it freezes pretty good too.  Check for acidity of the sauce at this point, and add in the runny honey if needed.  Stir through well.

Serve with rice, preferably a brown variety.

 

 

 

Low Calorie Section

I have added a new section that I am adding to my site called ‘Low Calorie,’ as I am being asked by people almost on a daily basis, to give them recipes and ideas to eat healthier.

I would like to stress at this point, that although the recipes are ‘low calorie’ I do this with health, rather than weight loss in mind.  Many will enjoy a loss of weight naturally when they eat well and ditch the junk.  Just testing some of my recipes over the last week, I have lost well over half a stone in weight, yet I do not feel deprived.  It is important to eat well and make sure that you get the right calories in your body for your height/sex/age/weight and activity level.  With that in mind, I have a few useful suggestions for you.

 

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First I purchased a pedometer quite cheaply from Argos for around £14.00.  It simply straps to your waist and you can forget about it and get on with your day.  I always aim for 10,000 steps per day but often it will end up being 12,000.

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Second, I placed the nutracheck app on my phone, which enables me to find out what my calories should be.  It also allows me to check food calorie/fat levels and I can add the food either from a bar code scan or manual input.  I also get control over how much weight I may wish to lose, whether I wish to stay at my weight or if I want to gain some weight.  It gives me lots of useful data and some of which has been surprising.  Simply swapping dairy yoghurt to a soya alternative reduced my calories by quite a substantial margin.  The biggest shock was that I really enjoyed the soya version, and do not find it in any way a sacrifice.  The next myth I wish to dispel is that fruit and veg are ‘free food’.  I need to be clear that they DO contain calories.  For instance 1 large banana is around 92 calories, whereas a nectarine is 36 calories.  Little swaps and changes can make a huge difference.  The app also gives you information on how many of your 5 a day you are eating, plus how much water you have drunk and still need to drink!

Third, I purchased a good set of digital scales as portion control is the biggest issue many people have.  Weigh out 30g the recommended amount of Special K cereal, and be truthful as to whether or not that is the amount you usually place into your bowl?

To be healthy and to lose weight is not rocket science.  What it does require is discipline and commitment.  Exercise (even brisk walking) and eating well, will not just help you shift a few pounds but will make you feel more alive and well.

Over time, I shall be giving you some recipes for low-calorie foods to help you.  These will be rough calorie guides and of course depends on your portion sizes.

Here is to health for 2016!

Low GI/GL Foods

The Food and Health Club that I run, discovered more about Low GI/GL foods today

This is a list that gives people an idea of what food to avoid and aim for, with low GI/GL food.   Not only does Low GI/GL food help people with diabetes regulate their sugar, but you tend to feel fuller for longer and it can help you lose weight.  Low GI foods are the ones to aim for!

Bread

LOW GI Pumpernickel, rye, sourdough, soya and linseed, barley and sunflower, granary, seeded breads and pitta breads (moderate GL) oat cakes, rye crackers (moderate GL)

High GI White, wholemeal, French stick, rice cakes, cream crackers, bread sticks

Cereal

LOW GI Whole oats, oatmeal, porridge, no added sugar muesli, bran sticks, semolina, quinoa

HIGH GI Sweetened cereals, rice based cereals, bran flakes, wheat biscuits, shredded wheat

Pasta

LOW GI Egg-based pasta, mungbean noodles

HIGH GI Overcooked pasta and pasta ready meals requiring re-heating

Rice

LOW GI Long grain, wild, and basmati rice. Bulgur or cracked wheat, couscous, pearl barley

HIGH GI Short grain, sticky white rice

Potatoes

LOW GI Baby new potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, celeriac, swede

HIGH GI Large floury white potatoes, French fries, mashed potato

Some other interesting facts are:-

Eat small or moderate portions of starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice.
Include lots of low-GL fruit and vegetables at every meal. Aim for a minimum of five servings of fruit and veg per day. Lightly cook veggies for the minimum time or eat them raw. Fresh, frozen, or canned fruit and veg are all fine.
Make more of pulses including peas, beans, and lentils in soups, salads, and as a meal accompaniment instead of pasta or rice. Pulses, including dried or canned, count towards your five-a-day fruit and veg.
Always include a protein-rich food as part of your meal to reduce the GL. Chose from lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, low-fat dairy foods, soya products, or quorn.
Adding acidic foods such as balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, vinaigrette, or pickles (for example, capers and gherkins) to your meal reduces the overall GL.

Adding a little monounsaturated oil such as olive or rapeseed oil also reduces the GL

Cut right down on highly refined snack foods such as sweets, crisps or corn chips, cakes, biscuits, and pastries made from white flour and sugar. Instead, choose nuts and seeds, or dried fruits such as apple rings or apricots. Instead of milk chocolate, snack on a couple of squares of dark chocolate with over 70 per cent cocoa solids.