Portion control and why it’s important to measure your food intake. If I’m advocating to rely on your hunger cues as to when and how much to eat, why would I suggest controlling the portion sizes of your food intake? Let me explain.
Table of Contents
- Table of Contents
- Intuitive Eating & Portion Control
- What is portion distortion?
- Counting Calories, Macros, Points, Units etc
- Empowering Your Choices Around Food
- Follow the Recipe
Intuitive Eating & Portion Control
Intuitive or mindful eating promotes you being in control of when you eat, how much you eat and what you eat. From when we are born, we are naturally designed to rely on our hunger cues to signal when we need to eat again.
Unfortunately, since restricting our food intake to lose weight (aka the diet culture), the creation of fast food for convenience and implementing structured meal times, we have lost that ability to regulate our natural appetite and only eat when we’re hungry and to stop when we’re full.
To eat intuitively means to rely on physical hunger cues to replenish and refuel your body with the nutrients it requires to function properly. Cues like a growling stomach or feeling fatigued.
When you become more mindful with your food intake and make more nutritious choices with the types of food you’re eating, you are re-educating yourself.
This also applies to the correct portion sizes for your height, weight, age, lifestyle, health goals etc and the more you practice measuring foods in the beginning or a new food plan, it will become automatic for you to remember.
What is portion distortion?
Portion distortion can happen over time and revisiting portion sizes can be helpful.
A lot of people have no idea what a true portion looks like (given the huge portion sizes at restaurants etc). We’ve been upsizing for decades without realizing it and have lost all conception of what is an appropriate portion size to meet our nutritional needs.
Small, regular or large. Do you want fries with that? and we don’t give it a second thought. After years of diet culture and convenience, fast food we have to retrain our brains into learning what are the appropriate food types and portion sizes for our optimum health.
Counting Calories, Macros, Points, Units etc
There’s something very restrictive around counting the calories in a food and putting a stop to eating it because you’ve gone over your allowance for the day. Eating food should never be about shaming, restricting or denying yourself.
Counting and tracking has it’s benefits when you’re starting a new eating plan or eating for a specific reason like competing in a sporting event, healing your body from a disease like diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or heart disease for example. This is where a dietitian can prescribe portion sizes of the correct foods beneficial for your overall health. In this instance, portion control is important.
The same rules apply for when you’re eating out. It’s hard to know what’s on the menu or what your workplace is catering for the special event. Learning to recognize those hunger cues, what’s a healthy portion size and those foods that are beneficial for your health will help you so much.
You don’t want to avoid social situations because of your diet (and I use that term loosely) Think of it more as your forever healthy eating plan.
Once you have the right combination of portion control, food type, ie protein, fat, carbohydrate etc it will be a matter of incorporating that into your daily routine.
Empowering Your Choices Around Food
Quite often my clients come to me not even being able to recognize when they are hungry or full. They’re eating out of boredom, habit or medical necessity.
The foundation of eating that I start with 95% of my clients is to obtain the right balance of protein/carbohydrate/fat at meals and snacks to keep blood sugar steady and maintain energy.
When we fuel the body with the right balance every 3 to 4 hours, it works with us.
While I don’t promote calorie counting with my clients, using scales, for example, to see what a portion of food looks like can be a tool that allows them to feel like they’re making healthy choices.
When we feel empowered around our health choices and feel the improvement in energy, it can keep us going and help build up momentum.
You may also be surprised as to just how much of the food that not only fuels your body but tastes good will be on your plate.
Follow the Recipe
There are so many recipes online now and beautiful cookbooks available to purchase. If you want to try a new cuisine like Thai or Mediterranean, both delicious, you’ll want to measure ingredients so the recipe turns out correctly and tastes good.
Practice makes perfect and the more you make a dish, the more you’ll become used to the quantities required.
Don’t forget baking is a science and if you want to bake, you’ll need to weigh and measure ingredients so it turns out.
Although intuitive eating relies on knowing your hunger cues around when, what and how much to eat, learning how to identify the correct portion sizes for your current (or any future) situation in your life is important for optimum health. Not only that, if following a recipe, it’s important to weigh and measure ingredients so the recipe turns out great.
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