Take charge of what, when and how much you eat!
Food for thought...
How often do you:
- Practice portion control?
- Continue to eat when you are full?
- Sneak a nibble of something you know you shouldn’t eat?
- "Taste test" while cooking?
- Skip meals, ultimately causing you to overeat later?
The “No-No’s”: What should you steer clear of when it comes to portion control?
- You like to graze throughout the day, taking a bite here and there. You tell yourself, “what does four or five chips matter?” But, when you add up all you consumed at the end of the day, you can’t believe how much you actually ate. Uh-oh!
- You sit down to a meal and the food smells amazing, looks delicious and tastes even better than you imagined. Before you know it, you’ve helped yourself to seconds, the plate is squeaky clean and you’ve eaten twice as much as you needed or wanted to consume. You’re left feeling like the buttons on your pants may pop and are in a state of what we like to call “food coma,” and you’re upset with yourself for overeating.
The building blocks for a healthy diet
To take the guesswork out of structuring your plate and manage portion control, we created several guides to use as visuals. These guides will help you build well-balanced meals and create a healthy relationship with food.
Serving Size Guide
The serving sizes on your plate are as vital as what you eat. Remember, moderation is key. It's possible to eat too many calories, even while eating nutritious foods.
Calories: While we absolutely don't promote counting individual calories, it is important to understand that you need to balance the calories you take in with the calories you burn to keep a healthy weight. Your physical activity has a bearing on how many calories you need daily, as well as your age, sex, weight and genes.
- For information that outlines the number of calories that a person should consider eating based on a number of factors, visit www.MyPlate.gov or The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Keep age in mind. We wish it didn't, but age also plays a role in portion control. Because it becomes increasingly difficult to stay in shape or shed excess weight with every decade that passes by, we’ve had to slightly adjust our portions as our metabolism slows.
We want you to keep this in mind throughout your journey and if necessary, slightly adjust your portions or weekly cheat meals.
Breakfast Ideas Guide
Before you eat, think about how you can adjust portions on your plate to get more of what you need without too many calories.
Plate Guide: How to break down your plate
Depending on where you look or who you talk to, there are different recommendations on how to fill your plate with the proper portions of carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and proteins.
Because we owe a lot of our success to properly portioning our plate, here's a breakdown along with common examples of the foods we consider to be in each group. Some may surprise you!
We put this one first on purpose. Veggies should take the lead role in the show... we're talking half the plate. Side salads count, so get your green on with some nonstarchy veggies.
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Salad greens and spinach
Whether you eat meat or not, getting proper amounts of protein is important. While protein shouldn't take center stage, it deserves a spot front and center... about a quarter of your plate.
- Milk and yogurt
Carbs (including grains and fruit)
Carbs can make or break your weight-loss journey, which is why we suggest you limit (not eliminate) them. Let them play a supporting role in your meal, rather than a lead.
Because we owe a lot of our success to this, here are some examples of the foods we consider to fall under this category.
- Bread and tortillas: whole-grain and grain-free
- Fruits and berries: especially bananas and apples
- Legumes and beans: beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas
- Milk and yogurt (although high in protein, still high carb)
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, beets, squash and parsnips
- Sugar in any form
- Whole grains: brown rice, oats and quinoa
Note: We included starchy veggies in this category because they have three to six times more calories (and carbs) than nonstarchy vegetables. As a result, it’s important to eat them in moderation, especially if you’re looking to lose weight.
Healthy fats aren't shown on the plate because they're often used to cook your veggies in and are intertwined with your protein. Think small... a teaspoon or so per meal. Examples: veggies sautéed in EVOO, coconut oil used to cook eggs, or nuts on your salad.
Some additional healthy fats are:
- Egg yolks
- Full-fat cheese
- Flax and chia seeds
- Healthy oils, such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil
- Nuts and nut butters
Break down your plate by the food group (like a pie chart). Check out the Plate Guide below for a visual representation of how we structure a healthy lunch and dinner plate.
Note: We often eat a small portion of fruit as a snack between meals and use it as a topping on our salads; sometimes we even include it as a small side.
Smoothie Meal Guide
Portions are just as vital when making a smoothie. Remember, fruit has a lot of natural sugars and carbs. To help you balance taste and health benefits, follow our perfect smoothie ratio below.
A few tips:
- A high powered blender will make or break your smoothie. It takes your smoothie from chunky to thick and creamy. Our personal favorite is Nutribullet because we can drink out of the cup we blend in. Less dishes? Heck yes!
- If you’re making your smoothie a meal, add a little protein, fat and fiber to help fill you up.
- Flavor it with FROZEN fruit. Not only does frozen fruit retain its nutritional value and flavor, it CHILLS your smoothie.
- Get your green on. Go slow when beginning to add more veggies into your diet. As your palate adjusts, increase your greens and decrease your fruit.
Using these guides will help you create a meal that balances taste, nutrients and health benefits without eliminating any of your favorite food groups. Remember, it's all about BALANCE baby!
How to make healthy changes
1) Spread it out. When you spread your calories over the course of a day by eating several small, nutritionally balanced meals, you'll have less of a desire to cheat knowing your next meal is only a few hours away. You'll also keep your metabolism elevated, feel more energetic and help keep your blood sugar regulated.
2) Drink water. You can never indulge in too much water. Not only is thirst often confused with hunger, drinking water before a meal aids in portion control because it helps you feel full.
3) While cooking, only taste test when it's absolutely necessary.
- When it comes to portion control, this is one of Kalie's biggest struggles. She LOVES to try what she's cooking. When she began paying attention to how many times she tasted "a bite," she quickly realized she ate half a meal before it was even plated! Since becoming aware of this, she makes a conscious effort to keep her sampling to a minimum and only does so when she's unsure of flavor combinations.
4) Use a small plate. Eating off of a smaller plate not only reduces the amount you serve yourself, it tricks your mind into thinking there's more food portioned out on your plate. Rather than taking into account the size of the plate, your mind pays more attention to how much the plate is filled, even if it's the same amount of food.
- While we often give each of our husbands a large plate to eat off of, we always choose a small-size plate for ourselves. This has helped us grasp proper portion control without feeling like we're just eating a snack.
5) Start paying attention to your serving sizes and the balance between food groups on your plate.
- Because Kalie LOVES carbs, she often uses a measuring cup to divvy out 1/4 cup to herself. This way, she's not tempted to give herself more than she needs.
6) Take a few minutes before serving yourself seconds. On average, it takes 15 minutes for your brain to realize you are full. Therefore, stop eating before you actually feel full!
7) Determine where your struggle stems from and address it. If you binge eat because you skip meals and have no self-control when it comes to meal time, stop skipping meals. If you get home from work late and overeat out of pure hunger, start packing a small mid-day snack instead.
8) Log it.
- FfL's Daily Food and Fitness Log: This is a great tool to track your general eating patterns and create accountability.
9) Don't deprive yourself. It's all about creating balance with 80/20 or 90/10. Reward yourself on occasion with an irresistible meal or delectable treat to help keep yourself satisfied. Remember, balance is key!
Tips when eating out
- So you can properly balance your plate, choose restaurants that offer healthy and diverse menus, including salads and grilled and steamed entrees.
- Depending on who you're dining with, consider sharing a meal.
- If you order a full-size meal, ask your server to box up half before it's served to avoid the temptation of overeating.
- Drink plenty of water before and during your meal.
- Eat slowly; focus on enjoying the ambiance and companionship during your meal.
- Consider ordering an appetizer as your meal.
- Order a salad as an appetizer; this will help fill you up and give you a sense of satisfaction before your meal arrives.
- Avoid the buffet and the urge to overeat unhealthy options.
- Don’t order “value combos” or “super-size” meals and drinks. Having larger portions in front of you than you need results in eating and drinking more calories than you need.
- Make the necessary changes to eat a healthy diet and properly plan your plate by using the Serving Size Guide, Plan Your Plate Guide and Smoothie Meal Guide.
- Establish regular times to eat a number of evenly spaced, nutritional meals based on your daily routine to help control the amount of food you eat. Consider three full meals or three small meals with small portioned-out snacks between.
- Avoid distractions while cooking so you're not “tasting" too frequently.
- Sit at a table to eat so you're not aimlessly stuffing food in your mouth while watching television.
- Drink a HUGE glass of water before you pick up a plate; this helps fill your belly a bit and combats overeating.
- Try eating from a smaller plate; this will allow you to eat less, consume fewer calories and still feel a sense of satiety when you're finished.
- Wait 15 minutes before digging in for seconds.
- When you're finished eating a meal, immediately put the leftovers away and out of sight.