Thursday, February 26, 2009

8 Tips for Masering Portion Control

Eating healthy, especially when you are used to eating whatever you want, can be overwhelming at first. What do I eat? How often do I eat? How long should I wait before/after exercising to eat again? You know the drill. However, the best thing to master first is portion control: how much do I eat. You’ll see – it’s much easier than you think!

Just eat half.
You can cut the calories of your favorite foods by 50% without changing anything – just eat half! For example, if you normally eat a deli sandwich at lunch, eat half of it. (Dining out? Ask for a carry-out box as soon as your meal comes out. Put half of it away before you even take the first bite!)

Make smarter swaps for your sides.
Replace your chips with carrot sticks. Still hungry? Reach for a piece of fruit instead of chocolate for dessert. Produce takes longer to eat – and digests slower – than other foods. This will give you more time to notice that you’re getting full. (Not to mention, the additional fiber will help you feel much more satisfied than chips – which are empty carbohydrates.)

Resist the urge to upsize.
There is no need to upsize the already oversized “meal deals” at fast food chains. In fact, staying away from combos is probably always your best option. A side salad is always your best side instead of fries, and you don’t need the soda either. (If you absolutely MUST have something – you know those days that only a hamburger and fries will suffice – order the kids meal. Just a few decades ago, that was what we considered to be “normal-sized” portions.)

Good things come in small packages.
If you know that “once you pop, you can’t stop,” don’t buy the large bags. Most products come in mini-sized packs now, so try to limit yourself to buying these only. If you are budget-minded, buy the big bag, but divvy out the contents into single-servings in Ziploc bags AFTER you’ve just eaten (so you won’t be tempted to snack as you divide them out.) As a side note, you can do the same thing with leftovers. Instead of just sticking the whole dish in the refrigerator, go ahead and store it in individual serving containers. Instantly, when you go to reheat, you’ve limited your food intake without additional effort!

Say no to buffets!
Unless it’s the salad bar at Jason’s Deli, JUST SAY NO! It’s nearly impossible to practice portion control in an “all-you-can-eat” situation.

Keep seconds out of sight.
Keep pots and dishes away from the table where it’s too easy to dive in for more. Remember, it takes 20 minutes to feel satisfied. Wait a while, and you may realize you aren’t hungry for a second serving after all!

Use your hands.
You can use your hands as an easy guide for portion control.

Palm = Proteins:
 Make protein portions the size of your palm. Protein is found in products, like fish, meats, beans and cottage cheese.

Thumb = Fats:
 Fats are important but also very dense, so match portions to the size of your thumb. Good fat sources are avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

Fist = Fruits & Grains: Your bread, fruit, cereal, rice, and grain portions should be about equal to the size of your closed fist. (Plus, make sure it’s whole grain!)

Hand = Veggies: 
Open your hand and spread your fingers as wide as you can. That is a good vegetable portion. Raw vegetables are loaded with fiber and nutrients, and contain very few calories.

Treat yourself!
Every once in a while, you need to let yourself indulge in a “forbidden food.” This will keep your from feeling deprived. You can stop a binge session before in starts by allowing yourself a treat ever so often.