The Dirty Little Secret About Portion Control
Here is portion control’s dirty little secret: you never have to think about portion control if you are eating raw produce. If it comes from a plant, straight out of the dirt, there really isn’t a limit on portion size. Here’s where it gets interesting. If you are looking for a way to change your eating habits for life, in order to lose weight and then keep it off, focus less on what you have to cut out of your diet and more on what you have to add. I’m talking big portions of produce. Big! Eat plain fruit and veggies in large doses and you’ll find you fill up from the fiber long before you overdo it with calories.
Let’s start with breakfast: pour yourself a very small amount of GrapeNuts and then let the portions go wild as you heap fruit into your bowl. Blueberries, raspberries or just a simple banana. Try all three! Its easy to keep the calories in check, even when your fruit servings are enormous. Add barely enough fat free milk to make the cereal wet and you’ll be satisfied with all that fiber for a minor number of calories. Mid-morning, have an apple or some other fruit that you like. My neighborhood grocery store has organic mangoes for sale this time of year. I can buy them whole or in slices and load up on those mid morning or just before eating lunch.
Make lunch a gigantic salad…spinach and arugula are easy to find in pre-washed bags at most grocery store chains. Load up your salad with an avocado, half a can of corn (or if you have the time, fresh corn cut from the cob), 1/2 a cup of frozen peas (defrosted), 1/4 cup of beans, a handful of grape tomatoes, a chopped scallion or two, some ripped up basil, if you’ve got it on hand, a handful of walnuts, a small spoonful of dried cranberries and voila! In 5 – 7 minutes you can throw together a heaping portion of pure veggie delight. Now the portion control challenge is to manage your dressing. My suggestion is this: if you put the salad in a huge mixing bowl and add a very small amount of balsamic vinaigrette, you can toss the salad until each leaf is barely coated with dressing. If instead, you just pour the dressing over the top without giving yourself the room to toss it along the way, you’ll probably consume too many calories in your dressing.
Mid-afternoon, you’re going to need a snack. How about a bowl of baby carrots? If that alone isn’t knocking your socks off, dip them in hummus. An alternative is to store little snack sized baggies, with a handful of nuts in each, inside your desk, bag or purse. Its also never a bad idea to keep an extra apple or banana at your desk in case you need one more boost before leaving the office later in the day.
Dinner? Keep in mind that you’ll have very little problem with portion control if you load up on produce first. Its OK if your meal involves whole wheat pasta, whole grain bread (1 slice!) or even some meat, but keep in mind that your portion control obstacles will become inconsequential if you start with a generous and healthy veggie appetizer. I often start with a salad, but another idea is to have a bowl of sauteed green beans prior to your meal. Begin by par boiling the green beans (drop the beans in boiling water for about a minute or so), and then spray a tiny amount of olive oil in a skillet and toss in some garlic with the par boiled French green beans. As you saute, the green color of the beans intensifies…now add some red pepper flakes and, if you need to, a bit of salt and pepper. Its a delicious way to start a meal.
Edamame is another good appetizer to help you reduce your intake of meat, bread, pasta and other less desirable calories. Your portion of crudites, green beans or edamame can be essentially unlimited. Once you’ve eaten a hearty portion of vegetables, then serve yourself a small portion of fish, pasta or meat. Make a fist…that’s the maximum size of your meat portion. Pasta also should be consumed in moderation, which is not difficult when you’ve partially filled up already on vegetables. All that fiber means you’ll feel satisfied with less food volume.
If you’ve got the nighttime munchies, portion control will be a breeze if you don’t keep junk food in the house. Seriously. You’re only human. Don’t do that to yourself! Many people struggle with late night grazing. The worst thing you can do is plop in front of the TV with a container of chips or ice cream. Portion control goes out the window when you are mindlessly watching TV. When your only choices are healthy choices, you no longer have to give a moment’s thought to portions. Fill up to your heart’s content on frozen grapes (my late night snack of choice), celery sticks, an orange, banana or a bowl of frozen blueberries. As far as I’m concerned, you can graze on all of these things and you’ll still probably land in a good place when it comes to your calories for the day.
So remember this dirty little secret…if it grew out of the dirt, mother nature will take care of the portions, and the calories, for you.
Thanks for listening and I wish you the best of health!
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