Most people that go to a fitness facility go for the purpose of losing weight. It’s a means to an end in that they perform their workouts with the hope or expectation of losing weight. If there were some other activity that was shown to be as effective for losing weight as fitness training many would switch activities.
However even though many people recognize the benefits of resistance training and energy system workouts towards achieving their goal many fall short. And while there may be extenuating circumstances for a small number of people the truth is that the problem has to do with what happens outside of the gym. In particular the problem lies with their nutrition. More specifically the problem has to do with portion control.
I think we can all agree that the problem is one of portion control of non-healthy foods. For most people the problem of obesity doesn’t have anything to do with eating too much lean protein, vegetables or water. No instead the problem has to do with portion control of all foods. With that in mind here are 9 Easy Tips for Portion Control.
Tip #1 – Smaller Serving Plates
Have you ever noticed that the amount we eat is based on the size of our serving plate? A big bowl means means more cereal, or popcorn or ice cream. A large plate means more rice or pasta. A larger saucer means a bigger sandwich or more room for sides.
I don’t have the citation at hand but I remember a study which allowed 2 groups of people to eat as much popcorn during a movie as they wanted. The one group had a huge bowl that could never be finished during a 90 minute movie. The other group had a small bowl that could be refilled as many times as they wanted. The group with the smaller bowl always ate less popcorn.
Tip # 2 – Rules of Thumb
What is a proper serving size of something anyway? Should I be measuring all of my food? When you consider all the rules of nutrition it can get pretty confusing. So we want to keep it as simple as possible. For portion sizes remember
* a deck of cards is a serving of protein
* a playing dice is a teaspoon
* a hockey puck is a serving of starch
What about vegetables? Well once you have your protein and starch figured out you can fill the remainder of your plate with fresh, fibrous and colourful vegetables.
Tip #3 – Remember the Hierarchy of Food
There’s a book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog to help you get stuff done. One of the takeaways is to do the task you least want to do first. This prevents things getting put off and you’re still likely to do the tasks you don’t mind anyways.
We can steal this idea for your nutrition. Consider the healthiest food on your plate and eat that first. This is not a trick question and everyone can ID the veggies on their plate. This ensures you always eat these before you fill up. The alternative for many would be to eat the starch, protein and fat then pick at their vegetables leaving some on their plate. They may even convince themselves they are doing something good by not finishing their meal but they are deceiving themselves and probably end up deficient in some important vitamins and minerals.
Bonus tip – Drink a glass of water before each meal. This not only will aid digestion but will help fill the gastric cavity causing you to feel full sooner.
Tip #4 – Make Treats Inconvenient
How you ever noticed how the healthiest foods tend to come in the smallest packages and cost the most? Whereas cheat foods come in huge packages, are always on sale and last forever?
Since we all know that portion control really doesn’t have to do with limiting the amount of veggies people are eating we need to make sure treats and desserts are small servings and inconvenient to have. By inconvenient this may mean not having the stuff around the house if it’s too much temptation for you. We already saw how the popcorn study showed you will eat more if more is in front of you. Perhaps the solution needs to be to buy the smallest amount of a treat or to go out for treat once in a while.
Tip #5 – Don’t Eat Alone
Food is not just for fuel. It is an opportunity to enjoy what we prepare, to discover new experiences and to connect with others. However when we eat alone we tend to overeat. And we eat more quickly as we don’t have to slow down to interact with others, answer their questions, ask how their day was etc.
Plus when we eat alone are more likely to eat less healthy foods that we might otherwise avoid in the company of others. The stigma or shame of being judged by others is not there so it is easier to have portion control be non-existent.
Check back here on Saturday March 29 when I’ll post the remaining tips for portion control.