Healthy Eating in the New Year: Tips for Portion Control
by Tracy Adler
by Tracy Adler
When the holidays are over and the New Year begins, lots of people are looking for ways to lose weight and eat healthier. Eating right-sized portions should be at the top of everyone's New Year's resolutions.
Our idea of the amount of food we think we need has become skewed by our culture. Many restaurants serve bigger and bigger portions while lots of people have come to think that they need large plates piled high in order to feel satisfied. Furthermore, overeating is not just a problem when eating out.
Our dinner plates have grown on average from 11 to 14 inches in diameter. If you put the correct-sized portions on these plates, they look half empty; but if you fill them up, you are overeating. As the plates have grown over the years, so have our waistlines.
If you look at your grandma's china or older plates in an antique store, you may notice that dinner plates from earlier eras are closer in size to today's salad plates than they are to the big plates many of us use. Couple that with the fact that earlier generations were generally more active than we are today, and it is no wonder so many people are overweight.
An easy way to make sure you are eating the correct size portions -- whether for snacks or for meals -- is to make sure you have the right-sized dishes and bowls such as 9Plate (a new 9-inch dinner plate which automatically measures carbs, veggies and proteins) and Yum Yum Dishes™ (4-ounce snack bowls that indicate on its rim and base, “Yum Yum time is … over.” ). Once you get into the habit of eating smaller portions you will need less food to feel full. Here are some tips:
- Change Lifestyle – Try switching to a 9-inch plate like the 9Plate for meals, or use a salad plate. Get into the habit of “seeing” your food before eating it. If you see a normal-sized plate that’s only half full, you may feel cheated. However, if you see that same amount of food on a healthy-sized plate you’ll have an easier time satiating your eyes and stomach.
- Pack Your Own Snacks – When you know you are going to be spending the day out, maybe driving around town taking your kids to appointments, pack healthy snacks in the right proportions. Yum Yum Dishes now come with snap-on plastic lids, making it easy to take the right -sized snacks with you on the go.
- Party Down (in Moderation) – If you are going out to a dinner party and don't have your regular 9-inch plate, try using a salad plate for your meal to keep your portions under control. If you’re going to a party where dinner won't be served, consider eating a small healthy meal at home before you go. Also, fill up by drinking water before hitting the buffet. When you visit the appetizer and dessert table later in the evening, allow yourself to sample two or three small items. Treat alcohol as though it were a dessert. Many alcoholic beverages have nearly as many calories and are loaded with carbs. Ask for ½ a glass at a time. Remember: You can have your cake and eat it too … just in moderation.
- Get Up and Move – Winter weather can definitely discourage your outdoor exercise, so take every opportunity to walk. Park at the opposite end of the shopping center or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Don't let winter make you a couch potato! Take that Zumba™, aerobics or Spinning™ class. If previous exercise efforts have been unsuccessful or short-lived, do something new and fun. The success of finishing the class could inspire you - physically and mentally - to become even more active.
- Snack Sensibly – Winter can be dismal enough without having to cut out your favorite "comfort foods!” Instead of prohibiting certain snacks, limit the portions. A 4oz. Yum Yum Dish is a great way to keep the winter “blahs” away and allow you to eat what you want (in moderation).
The New Year offers a wonderful opportunity for new beginnings. Radical diets and overly ambitious exercise programs can lead to disappointment and depression. So start small and be realistic with your goals. Remember to keep it fun. One way to keep it fun is to allow yourself decadent food in moderation. Learn to begin to look at your food before eating it. Starting new habits like limiting portion sizes of not-so-healthy foods and finding enjoyable and easy ways to get out of the house in the winter are great habits to hone.
About the Author: A strong advocate in the fight against childhood obesity, Tracy Adler is a former restaurant owner and mother of two. She created Yum Yum Dishes™ to help parents teach their children about correct portion sizes. For more information, visit www.YumYumDishes.com.