What Is A Portion Size?
Eating has become such a complicated endeavour nowadays that it’s a surprise anybody knows what to eat. But rather than tie yourself in knots about what you’re meant to be eating, why not start with something really simple? Control Your Portion Size.
It’s not surprising if you’ve completely lost touch with ‘what is a portion size?’ Go out to your local restaurant and you’re likely to get a plate filled with food. Do your weekly shopping trip and the food manufacturers have their own rules about what constitutes a serving size. And then when you cook your own food, you’re likely to decide on your portion size based on how hungry you are in that moment, or ‘just finish off’ what you’ve cooked rather than let it go to waste.
During our weight control programs, we run a section about portion size by giving a demonstration of the evolution of a packet of potato chips over 30 years. Tora put a short video together so you can see exactly what we mean.
Reducing your portion size
You can see that the general shift has been a growth in our portion sizes. Therefore, it makes sense to reduce your portion sizes if you want to lose and control your weight. But there are two problems with this for many people:
1. It’s too darn simple.
If you’ve spent a bit of time with us and read our Pocket Guide to Weight Control, you’ll know that there’s far more to weight control than simply what you eat and how much exercise you do. However, when we look purely at the eating aspect of weight control, the answer can really be as simple as cutting down on your portion size.
The trouble is, you’ve probably come to rely on experts to tell you exactly what you’re meant to eat, and can’t quite believe you could lose weight simply by cutting down on your portion size. As an example of how simple it can be, we can look to the former opposition leader in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull. The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story about Mr Turnbull’s recent weight loss of 14 kilos/30 pounds, which he did by “being less greedy” than he used to be, and “lost weight pretty quickly”. Can it be that simple? Yes, it can.
2. A very sticky childhood belief.
The second problem with reducing your portion size is its close relation to the ‘you must eat everything on your plate’ belief. There aren’t many people who didn’t grow up with that belief, and it causes all sorts of problems. There are two ways to deal with this belief:
1. Put less food on your plate, and then eat everything [short-term, simple solution].
2. Work on changing your belief so it stops getting in the way of your weight results [long-term solution]. See our Pocket Guide to help you with changing your belief.
As a general guide to your portion sizes, here are three simple tips:
1. Read food labels carefully. There’s often more than one serving size in a food item that you presume is a single serve item.
2. Increase green and leafy vegetables and salads on your plate, but reduce starchy carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, rice)
3. Buy smaller plates. A crazily simple but very useful tool for portion control.
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