Portion Sizes and weight-loss


If you are trying to lose body fat; think you are following a pretty healthy diet and exercise regularly but just can’t seem to reach your goals, the problem could be with your portion size. Over the last 20 years portion sizes have dramatically increased in almost all food outlets from restaurants to fast food venues. This means that every time you eat out you are probably getting far more than you need. And if you’ve paid for it you’re going to eat it! This might be value for money but it’s certainly not value for health. This becomes an even greater problem; for once you get accustomed to eating larger portions you will always need that much to be satisfied. So you start to eat more at home as well and so the cycle continues. A young child will only eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are satisfied. Adults and sadly even many children as young as five years-old, have lost this ability. The constant availability of food; the wide variety of different, appetising choices and our relatively low levels of activity all make it difficult for us to eat only what we need. We are taught as children to finish what is on our plate and not to waste food. This sounds like a good policy but frequently just leads us to overeat. To break this cycle we need to learn to listen to our bodies which may well mean getting accustomed to a smaller portion. Apply some of the behavioral techniques below to start listening once more to physiological cues for food intake, rather than all the other visual and psychological cues around us. And if you do overeat one day, simply cut back the next.

Behavioural Techniques

  • Eat slowly, putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls so that you recognise when you feel full

  • Avoid having a buffet of food on the table as this encourages you to keep picking

  • Serve your food onto a plate (the smaller the better) and put any remaining food away in the fridge or freezer

  • The one exception to this is veggies, either as a large salad or simply steamed or stir-fried. Put these on the table to encourage everyone to fill up on these

  • Wait at least 10 minutes before going back for seconds – in all likelihood the desire will pass as you give your brain time to receive satiety signals

  • In a restaurant decide how much you should be eating as soon as your meal arrives and leave the rest

  • Order entrée sized dishes where you can and order extra salad or veggies to fill you up

  • Avoid getting too hungry and then not having a meal plan. This will cause you to overeat

  • Avoid rewarding yourself with food. Choose a massage, facial, sleep in ... anything but food!

Portion Size - What does it look like?

Understanding how much to eat is crucial to the success in dropping some of those extra kilo's. We need less than you think! Check out this infograph below from precision nutrition which gives you a clear visual picture of what should be on your plate.

Kirsty Robbie - Co-Founder of StudioForty6 and IoM Health Coach.

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