It is no secret that how many calories you consume determine whether or not you will gain weight, lose weight, or maintain weight. It isn’t necessarily what you eat (although eating optimal nutrition is most healthy) it is caloric intake that dictates your waistline. These days, everything is bigger than it was 100 years ago, and obesity is at an all time high. Everything is supersized. Big Gulps, Big Macs, and don’t even mention restaurant size portions served on a 14 inch plate. In fact, there is evidence that suggests increased plate size is directly proportional to increases in body weight over the years. 100 years ago plates were roughly 8″ or 20cm in diameter. 40 years ago plates were about 10″ or 25cm. Today, the average plate size is 12″ or 30cm. Larger plates can equate to larger amounts of food on your plate,which means more calories.
So, how do you control caloric intake?
Educate yourself on what a serving really looks like. We have become so conditioned to larger sizes that most don’t really know what a single serving looks like anymore. Then, begin filling your plate with single servings instead of filling your plate up. Read labels and if there are 20 crackers in a serving, count them out to see what it looks like instead of randomly eating the serving from the box or bag. If you are full before your plate is empty, then STOP eating. Leftovers are okay. It is just tasty treats for another day.
Don’t drink your calories. Calories consumed in liquid form, typically don’t fill you up and just add to caloric intake with little or no nutritional value. Juice is not nutritionally equal to eating fruit because it does not contain any fiber. Soda is simply sugar water with no redeeming quality (except it is sooooooo yummy).
Eat what you want, just be conscience of portions. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to convince myself that an apple would satiate my cravings for cheesecake. I ate the apple, then some cheese, then some crackers, and then went ahead and at the cheesecake anyway.
If you need some help with serving sizes, here’s some nifty options.
There is always a measuring scale if you insist on precision.
You can simply purchase smaller plates that you cannot pile as much food onto. Recommended plate sizes for today are approximately 9″ or 23cm, which is a typical salad plate.
There are several resources online that can help you with portion control. WebMD has this awesome downloadable pdf guide with pictorial representations and verbal details, that you can print out and hang on your fridge to help you remain conscience of portion sizes. http://www.webmd.com/diet/printable/portion-control-size-guide
In an unlikely pairing, an LA film maker and a fitness guru met by chance and after discussions, collaborated on developing unique tools that can be used to control portion sizes. http://www.lifesizeportions.com/ They sell the tools in a kit that contains 8 measuring devices. You use these devices to fill your plate with serving size portions. What I really like about the kit is they include measuring devices for salad dressings and condiments because they are high concentration of calories that are most often overlooked.
If you aren’t keen to weighing your food or using measuring devices, there are divider plates you can purchase with individual portions. http://portionsizematters.com/ If you want a less obvious plate that looks more like elegant dinnerware to help you eyeball your portions, you can find some pretty pieces at slimwareonline. http://slimwareonline.com/
Image courtesy of SATTVA / FreeDigitalPhotos.net