Clearly I was confused about portion control the other day, and when I asked for help, you answered (you guys are amazing, seriously). Here’s a guest post from my friend Danielle, a former lulu co-worker of mine, who is a nutrition and health coach in the Boston-area. Thanks so much for putting this together Danielle!:
Hey everyone! My name is Danielle and I am a nutrition and health coach with a passion for all things food, fun, and fitness. I blog over at Clean Food Creative Fitness where I post recipes, nutrition tips, and my general thoughts on self-esteem and body image. When Danne asked me to write a guest post about portion control, the nutrition coach in me immediately started wondering how to approach this, reason being there is no one set portion of anything that is going to work for everyone. I believe in taking an individual-based approached to nutrition, which means what works for me may not be right for Danne, and what works for Danne, may not work for you. But there is a middle ground of basic health and nutrition tips I think anyone can follow so that is what I’m sharing today.
My Top Ten Tips for Living Nutritiously!
1. Eat when you’re hungry. Duh, right? Not so simple for the average American though. We have been conditioned to eat for all types of reasons other than hunger. Watching a movie? Have some popcorn. It’s your birthday? Eat some cake. And you must eat candy on Halloween right? Instead of following these “typical” eating traditions, ask yourself if you are truly hungry? Notice things such as energy level, stomach grumbling, or other physical feelings of hunger and eat something.
2. Drink a glass of water before eating. We often mistake our thirst for hunger, meaning instead of curing our thirst with water, we end up eating more than we need to and still feel unsatisfied. Fill up on water first and then decide if you are still hungry, you might be surprised.
3. Stop eating before you are full. I like to think of it this way: “how will I want to feel 20 minutes after eating?” If your answer is weighed down, heavy, and tired than you might want to eat until you’re stuffed, but I prefer to feel energized and light after my meals so I usually stop eating a little before I’ve reached that feeling of fullness.
4. Make half your plate vegetables. Breakfast can be an exception but why not start getting in your veggies early! Vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, plus they keep us full, and are low in calories. Fill up on vegetables first and you may not want to eat that extra slice of pizza.
5. Practice protein portion control. As Americans we tend to eat protein way beyond our needs. It’s simply not necessary. Think of your protein serving with each meal being about the size of your fist. If it’s something such as eggs, think about how many you could hold in one hand. That’s how many you can eat. A generic baseline for women is 3-4 oz of lean protein per meal, ½ cup beans, or 1-cup Greek yogurt or milk.
6. Balance your plate. With every meal aim to have a fat, a protein, and a carbohydrate present. This will keep you full, satisfied, and balanced.
7. Don’t fear carbs. Carbohydrates aren’t bad. They give us immediate energy and provide us with tons of vitamins and minerals. If you are looking to lose weight, I suggest making sure the majority of your carbohydrates come from fruits and vegetables. For vegetables, don’t worry about the portion. No one ever gained weight from eating too much broccoli. One serving of fruit is usually 1 cup or 1 piece. All other carbohydrates should be coming from whole grains and typically 1 oz or ½ cup cooked is a serving. This goes for everything from cereal to bread to rice.
8. You will not get fat from eating fat. I promise. Eat fat, it is good for you and helps to absorb and digest all the necessary vitamins we need. Keep in mind that fats do contain more calories per gram than proteins and carbohydrates so you are going to want to eat smaller amounts of them. Typically I suggest a tbs. of fat per meal, this is usually of oil or nut butter. One ounce of nuts or ½ of an avocado are also standard fat servings.
9. Food labels can lie. Food labels are often not your best source when deciding what to eat. They can determine the serving size on their own and it is not always equivalent to a standard serving. They can also round their total calories by a certain percent, so you may actually be taking in more or less calories than the label says. For more information on this check out my post on food label distortion here.
10. Don’t trust the food pyramid. The food pyramid is constantly evolving and changing based on new scientific findings, but companies like the dairy and meat industry also endorse it. This means that it has more political influence on it than you may think and isn’t always your best source for nutrition information.
Bottom Line: Experiment and see what works for you. Load up on things that don’t contain a food label at all like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, etc… Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full and above all trust your body! Portion control is a lot simpler than you may think!