When your eyes are bigger than your stomach

Happy October everyone! I hope that you had a fabulous weekend and you are ready to start your week!

Portion size.  How many of you actually know what a proper portion size looks like?  Sure you might know what a portion should be, but if someone put a plate in front of you and asked you to fill it with the proper amount of food would you be able to?  Most likely not, and you aren’t alone, as most people have no clue what a proper portion of food should be.  There are plenty of reasons for this, one of them being that portions have grown significantly over the years.  But I think that even more than that, people like to see a full plate.  We don’t want to feel like we have been “jipped” when it comes to food.  Think about it: when was the last time you got totally psyched to see a plate that had a little pile of veggies, a meager sized piece of chicken and small helping of brown rice?  Probably hasn’t happened yet.  Now think of your typical Thanksgiving plate.  You pile that turkey on there, load it up with potatoes, pour gravy all over, and finish up with some pumpkin pie.  Seeing a full plate of food somehow allows you to feel like you are going to be fed and won’t go hungry.

This of course can lead to weight gain and overall bad health.  Constantly piling your plate with food, even “good” or healthy food, will never get you where you want to be health wise.  I get it too, because I struggle with making sure I am eating the correct portions.  I frequently have a case of my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but they are getting few and far between.  So why do we let our eyes rule our plate? Well, there are plenty of different reasons.  One is that with the ever growing portion sizes we also have ever growing waistbands and actually need more food to feel like we have eaten a full meal.  We are also a country that is over consuming sugar and sugar acts as an appetite stimulant.  So instead of that donut you just ate making you feel satisfied, you feel like you need to eat more food.

And one big reason I think that we eat more than we should is that we are lazy.  I don’t mean lazy in terms of getting up and moving around (although that is a problem).  I mean we don’t do our research when it comes to food.  Quick, without looking tell me how big the correct portion of chicken is.  Can’t?  It’s about 3 oz or the size of your palm.  Now, you’re going to tell me that you are not lazy, you read the nutrition labels and everything.  Sure you probably glance at it but do you actually follow the serving size on that bag of chips?  Because I can bet you that you would be shocked at how little you are actually supposed to eat.  Just eye-balling your food is not a good way to eat because more often than not, you are over-estimating your portion sizes.

So what can you do to counteract this?  Well for starters start measuring EVERYTHING.  Actually bust out your measuring cups and spoons and put them to good use.  Buy a kitchen scale (they are really not that expensive and can be found at Wal mart) and weigh your meats and veggies.  Sure it takes a little extra work but it will help you learn what a proper portion size actually looks like.  And if you are caught without some type of measuring device, use your hand.   This is a really great chart that you can use to quickly measure out your portions.  When you eat out, immediately divide your food in half and have it boxed up or share it with someone else.  Restaurants are notorious for giving out massive portions of food (who wants to go out to eat and get 4 french fries and a mini burger?) and it is just easier to divide up the food right away before you start inhaling it.  And that is another thing, take your time eating.  Most of us can finish a meal in 5 minutes flat and be on our way to our next activity.  But eating fast doesn’t give your brain a chance to register that you have eaten and you end up eating way too much.  Slow down and try to take at least 20 minutes to eat.  This can help you start feeling fuller and enjoying those correct portions.

When you first start eating the correct amount of food, you will probably feel like you are starving yourself.  You will be eating less than you are used to but you have to get your body used to the right amount of food.  This is where taking your time eating can come in handy as well as making sure that the food you are eating is flavorful and filling.  Start experimenting with new recipes and flavors and find something that leaves you feeling satisfied even if you aren’t eating a gigantic amount of it.  Once you can teach your eyes just how much food should be going into your stomach, you will be on your way to healthier living!

Tools to Help with Portion Control