Portion Control Part 1: It’s called WILL POWER… not WON’T POWER

August 29, 2016

Looks like a healthy meal full of good fresh ingredients... but you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to healthy eating
You can have too much of a good thing when it comes to healthy eating

By Kay MacInnis, Registered Dietitian at Providence Health

If it tastes good, spit it out...... right?

That is something you might think or say to yourself when you are told by your doctor that you need to change your eating habits. Maybe you are not told by your physician that you need to change your eating habits and it is a decision you come to on your own.

The question is where to start and what changes should you make? There is so much information and misinformation about nutrition surrounding us it can sometimes be difficult to start a healthy lifestyle, notice it is a healthy lifestyle, not a diet.  A diet is something you start Monday morning and stop on Wednesday afternoon and wait for the following Monday to restart.

So let’s start with portion control.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I don’t want to teach you how to eat.  I want to teach you how to eat and feel satisfied in a way that’s healthy for the body.

Instead of placing foods or categories off-limits, try adjusting your portions.  One of the easiest ways to begin portion readjustment is to purchase pre-packaged items such as LeanCuisine, Kashi, Amy’s, Smart Ones and Healthy Choice meals, those are often referred to portion controlled foods.  They are a great way to “re-adjust” your view of what food serving sizes should look like.

Happily healthy people enjoy their bites, satisfyingly, in the right amount.  Thanks to health-focused convenience foods, you can learn to do the same.

Portion control takes some training.  After years of eating large heavy meals, your body will need time to adjust to smaller sizes.  However, having smaller amounts of food per sitting allows the body to digest and create energy more efficiently. Smaller more frequent meals is a strategy that can help!  The trick is to make sure you don’t end up taking in more calories than the body needs.

Another way to add fulfillment to what will at first seem like too little food is to add additional low-cal items such as steamed or roasted vegetables.

Reading the labels is very important! Look for items that have less than 350-500 calories total and are single serving.

Is this the healthiest way to eat?  Critics will complain of high sodium levels in ready-made dishes, this is why you need to read the labels.  Try to limit sodium intake to less than 500 mg per meal.  Remember this isn’t how you will eat forever!  This is just a step to teach your stomach what size is right, and to allow it to perform at its best. 

In two follow up blog entries we will present other tools for portion control, specifically plate mapping and household object visualizing.  Until then, checkout your grocer’s freezer aisle and let them help you learn to portion correctly.  You’ve got enough on your plate when it comes to learning healthy living.