The most valuable lesson I have learned is that the most meaningful journey is the inner journey.

Mindful Eating, Powerful Living

How to harness the benefits of portion control

Jean Edelman: Great to be with you this week. This week I want to talk about portion control. It’s still February and it’s still heart month. And we’ve talked about our immune system and we’ve talked about good health habits. But I think portion control can be a part of this conversation. It’s still early enough in the year. Folks are trying to get rid of the holiday weight gain from last year and still trying to start healthier habits. Personally, I’m a visual person and I found this article from the Mayo Clinic super helpful. We can eat healthy foods, but if we’re eating too much and we’re eating too late into the evening, we’re not helping ourselves. That is something our immune system doesn’t like. So the Mayo Clinic suggests using everyday objects as visual reminders of what a portion of food is.

Here we go. So, fruits. Think of a tennis ball that would be a serving of fruit, an apple or an orange, for example. Our veggies, think of a baseball that would be about a half a cup serving of vegetables. Our grains, think of a deck of cards, about one cup of serving of pasta or rice, or a slice of bread. Our proteins are also a deck of cards, that’s about three ounces of meat, or veggie burger, or serving of chicken. Our fats, such as butter or maybe mayonnaise, think of that as a pair of dice and that’s about a teaspoon serving.

So if we can have these visualizations when we’re going out, I think going out is the hardest part, for some reason, we went to these super big meals and super big portions and it’s way too much. But anyway, I digress. When I was a kid, eating out was a luxury, and with four kids, it didn’t happen very often. We wanted larger servings because there were six of us to feed, but that one serving was going to feed six of us.

Today, these larger servings for six is for one person, so it’s so easy to overeat. So my suggestion is that when we are eating out, maybe we ask for a takeout container and we only eat half of the meal and we bring the rest home. Or perhaps we eat an appetizer and a salad because usually those servings are a little bit smaller. And so portion control is a big factor in our health because as I shared, our immune system doesn’t like to be overtaxed and we don’t want to be eating late into the evening so that we don’t have time to digest our food.

So my action item for the week is how about we pay attention. If we have weight and health goals, how much are we putting on our plate? Because small changes in a short period of time can make a difference, so just having the awareness can help us practice making these changes.

And so my word of the week is Portion.

The P is to Pause. Before we dig in, how about we stop and observe, how hungry are we? And you know what? We should stop eating when we’re about 80% full. We should pause during the meal, pause after each bite. Chew our food. When we pause, we will feel full sooner and not eat as much.

The O is for Observe. Sometimes we think we’re hungry when really we’re thirsty and we need to drink some water. So let’s make sure we’re hydrated. Observe and ask ourselves are we hungry? Or could a cup of tea do?

The R is for Remedy, a way of correcting or healing something so many of us struggle with food. Food insecurities. Emotional eating. Bingeing. It’s healthy to be in control and these are some simple tips to try.

The T is for Time. We find support in our life when we’re ready for it all in its right time. But also, changes take time. And if we’re slowly changing our food portions and controlling when and how much we eat, time will tell, and before we know it, we’ll be buying a smaller dress size. Another good tip is after each meal, try to get outside to walk, even if it’s for 10 or 15 minutes.

The I is for Improve, to make someone or something better. We will feel so much better when we’ve taken small steps to better health.

The O is for Option, an alternative or choice or selection. When we’re more aware of what we’re eating and we’re making better choices and we’re looking at our options, we’re not going to go down the same path. We can switch up our fruits and veggies, try something new, grab an apple instead of a brownie at 3:00 in the afternoon. Have tea instead of cookies or chips. We have options. We always have options and choices presented to us all the time. So pause, take a breath and take a healthier path.

The N is to Notice. Notice we are enjoying our food and we’re not just wolfing it down. You know, when we’re running between appointments or here or there, can we connect with our stomach and the food we just nourished it with? What’s going on around us? What’s going on in our environment? Is there yelling, are we watching some bad TV show? We really should be eating in a very calm and soothing environment, because then our food will be digested a whole lot easier. If we chew our food and take our time to give each meal at least 20 minutes. We will feel better if we’re, like I said, wolfing down a sandwich in the car in between running the kids around. When we get home, we’re going to devour the refrigerator because we don’t even remember that we ate something. So an additional tip is to try to eat at regular times during the day, because then we’re not fighting our blood sugars, which will allow us to grab anything to eat. Have healthy soups or broths available to fill us up in between our meals.

Have a wonderful week everyone! I look forward to visualizing all these cards and baseballs and tennis balls as I go through my week of food. Take care.

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