Portion control diet

Donna Aston
Monday, September 11, 2006
Image: Snapper Media
If the first challenge is fine-tuning the palate to the pleasures of clean, healthy food, the second challenge is regulating how much good food you consume. Too much of a good thing can still be detrimental to health. Everything you eat will still be used, or more often, stored by the body.

You may have corrected the food balance so that your diet is a well-measured variety of protein, colourful plant foods and "good" fats, but even if you eat good foods excessively your weight will increase. There is such a thing as too many salads, shakes or fruits. Watch the volume.

Weight gain is primarily an energy imbalance where the calories consumed exceed the calories expended. Filling up on low-carb, low-sugar, low-kilojoule, low-fat goodies is going to show up on your waistline if your exercise level doesn't balance the energy scales.

Food portions are crucial in balancing those scales and correcting the dreaded plateau that so often strikes where the weight refuses to budge. If you want to get to 24 percent body fat but remain stuck at 30 percent it is because you are eating and exercising in the way someone of 30 percent body fat would. Change and your body will change with you.

Trim the portions, rectify the protein/carb balance or tweak your training regimen so that you burn more calories and the plateau will invariably shift and the fat will budge while you're still eating plenty of good foods.

Tips to keep portions under control:

  • Eat only at the table — don't do a Seinfeld and eat straight from the pantry or fridge.
  • Don't pick from your children's meals or feel compelled to clear the plate for them. If they are sensible enough to know when they're full then maybe your own clean plate means you have had enough too. There is also no need to force them, or yourself, to finish eating everything on the plate.
  • Downsize the dinner plate and only eat what you serve yourself. Don't be tempted to have second or 10th helpings. It's important that all meals have a beginning … and most importantly, an ending!
  • Take time to eat and enjoy your meals by chewing properly, savouring all the flavours of that healthy food.
  • Don't eat for stress relief because you will never be satiated. Eating does not cure stress and can often make it worse. Emotional eating tends to mean overeating.
  • Relax before you eat by walking or exercising. It prepares your body to be refuelled.
  • Never abstain from eating so much that you become ravenous. Starvation brings on panic and you will eat anything in sight. Temper your appetite by snacking on natural yoghurt, cheese or nuts.
  • Always ensure the nutritional balance is met in your meals so there is enough protein, vegetables (at least five servings a day) and unprocessed fats which also keep hunger at bay.


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