Phobia-Free Portion Control
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Scale
Portion control. Ever wonder just how much is enough? Have you looked down at your plate at home or in a restaurant and wondered if you REALLY needed all that food? Did you eat it all anyway?
Here is hoping I can help you figure out the how and why of the mystery of Portion Control!
First and foremost, as I have mentioned over and over again on the radio, you will need a scale. Otherwise, you are playing the guessing game. That’s just not gonna help you! What do I recommend? Digital all the way. You want accuracy, especially if you are not dealing with a large number of calories per day, every partial ounce counts.
I have a couple of recommendations based on cost per unit. Click the links below to see what I recommend. I use the OXO Stainless Steel unit, but I use it every day, all the time. You may not have the same need or desire for that kind of cost unit.
Budget Range: Cuisaid ProDigital Digital Kitchen Scale (Silver)
Once you have determined your caloric needs and the amount YOU need per person, start weighing stuff. You will be shocked when you start doing it. What will you be shocked at? Just how much the pre-cooked weights might be… Most recommended chicken servings are 4 to 6 ounces. Most commercially processed and sold chicken breasts are 8 to 16 ounces! Quick lesson? How do you trim down a chicken breast? Weigh your breast, determine how much you need for a final weight. Lay the breast on a cutting board. If you need a 4-ounce breast and you have a 12-ounce breast, you can cut down in thirds. Lay the breast out, skin side down, lay a sharp chefs knife down flat to the board, 1/3 of the way up the breast. Start slicing slowly. For safety and your own comfort, hold the chicken breast down with your hand in a plastic container to put pressure on. Cut down from the fat side to the point, trying to keep the cut even all the way to the end. Weigh your final product. Practice will make perfect on this type of application.
Not only do you have the ability to weigh your pre-cooked ingredients, but you also have the ability at home to weigh your final products! You want to know how much starch and protein you are serving. Your needs will vary.
Take Control of Your Plate
Now that Chef/Minister Jett has preached from the mountain about the use of scales, let’s get to the hard stuff. How do you control what you eat when someone else is plating your food?
Over the last 20 years, restaurant plates and by the same right home plates have increased on average from 10 inches to 12 inches. That is actually a 25% increase in the amount of food that can be on a plate! You pay the bucks, you want a full plate in front of you, right? We have been conditioned since youth to “clean your plate”. I remember being told about the starving kids in Africa. How do you beat the plate growth problem?
Leave Food On Your Plate
First, don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate. There are very few restaurants that are not willing to box up or doggie bag your leftovers. Realize that there may be 3 full meals worth of food on that plate! Your average fast-casual restaurant will serve the equivalent of 2 or 3 servings of protein, 2 servings of starch but usually only a single serving of vegetables.
Second, you can play tricks on your body. The brain has a built-in time delay. It takes on average 20 minutes for the brain and the belly to communicate. This goes back to our primal scavenger nature where our ancestors were scavenging the plains for grub. You had to eat quickly and lots of food before the other predators come for either what you are eating or for you. So… Take your time. If you are eating solo, use that high tech distraction device (smartphone) and read a book between bites. Read my blog here or Play Angry Birds. Whatever you need to do to slow yourself down. Put your fork down between bites. If you make the mental effort to put down your fork, you will slow down what you eat.
Have a Conversation
If you are eating with company, have a conversation! If you allow your body the time to process what you eat and actually STOP when you are satisfied instead of when the plate is empty, you will be shocked at how much will be left on your plate.
A couple more tricks? Drink a glass of water before you eat. Your body will feel full more quickly if you drink a glass of water and eat a starchy item. Bread, or rice, or potatoes will quickly expand in your stomach, and you will feel full quickly. Similar concept to the “full bars” that were being marketed a few years back.
Last trick for this blog?
Treat your plate like you would for a four-year-old. Cut the food into bites in advance. You will see just how much food is actually there if you cut down your proteins and starches into bites. It will allow you to take the time in eating and will make you considerably more aware of the volume of food you are eating.
Last bits of information for you guys. Dr. Michael and I closed the show today talking about what I call free foods. American diets and eating habits have evolved to the 3 big meal per day system. Your body has a hard time processing that volume of food in any given sitting. A successful weight loss program will very often involve eating smaller meals on a more frequent basis. If you knew you were doing it or not, you were. Think about your average office day. Eat a big breakfast, eat a big lunch and likely some kind of snack in between from the vending machine, or the donuts that Jane Helpful brought for the break room. You do the same thing after lunch before you hit the road. If you are tracking your calories or points, those snacks can kill you!
Cut back on the big breakfast and lunch! Oh yeah… Free Foods? Weight Watchers has a great system in place. They promote the use of what they call Power Foods. These are fresh fruits and vegetables and select other foods that are 0 points. These food products do contain calories, but also contain a considerable amount of fiber, which the human body cannot digest. There are lots of calories on those items that are locked up on the non-digestible fiber. I tell people that fresh raw fruits and vegetables? Don’t count those in your calories!
Back next week to talk about basic activity levels.
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