Health is a multi-faceted discipline and when most people start changing their habits to create a healthy lifestyle, they commit to eating healthy first. Over the past 5 months we have introduced a few healthy eating practices like eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as setting up your kitchen to insure that you make healthier choices. But without portion control, over eating even healthy foods can still be a problem. Chances are you have all heard the saying “everything in moderation” and this holds true for pretty much any food. For example, honey is a great sugar alternative and local honey has immune system boosting benefits, but eating a gallon of honey is obviously not good for us! For our May health challenge, we introduce another health basic:
Finding your portion size
Finding portion sizes that work for you will help to change your eating behaviour and help prevent overeating. First things first, you won’t need any scales or measuring cups or calculators to determine your ideal portion. We are all different sizes and shapes, so there is no point to trying to count calories or use predetermined amounts from a book or website. The size of your hand is proportionate to your body, making it the perfect measuring tool! Use the following infographic to help find your healthy portion size and build a healthier meal.
*Men should start with 2 servings of each. Women should start with 1 serving of each.
Now that you have a baseline portion size; you should be re-evaluating 20 minutes, 1 hour, and 2 hours after your meal. Depending on how you are feeling, your appetite, and your needs you can now modify your serving sizes up or down:
If you need more food because you are larger in stature, not satisfied after a meal, very active, eating less frequently, or trying to gain muscle, THEN start by adding carbs and fats first.
If you need less food because you are smaller in stature, feel too full after a meal, not very active, eating more frequently, or trying to lose weight, THEN start by reducing carbs and fats.
Healthy Tip – Use the left over trimmings from your portioning to create amazing soups and broths!
The more consistent you are with portion sizes and the evaluation of your needs, the easier it will be to identify when you may be overeating or under eating and in need of more nutrients. In addition to identifying the correct portion sizes, here are a few other practices that you may consider adopting:
Firstly, drink more water! If you are properly hydrated throughout the day your hunger cues will be lessened and the chance of overeating will become less. If you struggle getting enough water, try infused waters with fruit, or instead of taking small sips take 3 or 4 large gulps each time you take a drink.
Secondly, ensure that you are eating high quality foods that have minimal processing; the closer to nature something is the higher the nutrient content and the more filling they will be. Highly processed foods tend to be filled with excess fats, sugars/sweeteners, salts, and other chemicals to make them more appealing (unfortunately most of these additives have a negative effect on your health!)
Thirdly, change how your food is presented and eaten. If you are used to filling a plate with food, transition to smaller plateware or change up the ratios and get more vegetables into the mix. Try to eat mindfully and slowly, savoring each bite of food; enjoying your meal will lead to higher satisfaction and feeling full more quickly. Research has shown that nutrient absorption is much higher in those who are relaxed and happy when eating.
Overeating occurs more often when eating highly processed foods that are often hyper-palatable (too good to put down) and less satiating (need more to feel satisfied)