The Importance of Portion Control & Eating More Often

January 12, 2011

What you’re about to read concerning your eating habits may be difficult to believe, but it’s so true.  Our society is obsessed with making money.  So the more food you buy and eat and consume the more money someone somewhere makes–usually many some ones.  And while their wallet is getting bigger and bigger so is your belly!  Recently, though, there seems to be a movement towards whole foods–natural foods, healthy foods.  I’m so excited to see this because what you put in your body is so important!  It’s time, though, that we not only start eating WHAT we should be, but HOW MUCH and WHEN we should be as well!

Portion Control

First, let’s start with HOW MUCH we should be eating.  Let me give you a table of a bunch of foods and how much of each food constitutes a serving size–a portion of said food.  (I think you might be surprised).

(The information for this chart was found here.)

So.  The USDA suggests we each eat about 6-11 servings of grains, 3-5 veggies, 2-4 fruits, 2-3 servings of dairy, and 2-3 servings of meat (or protein) a day. I know they’ve recently changed the food pyramid, but the only difference is that now they tell you in ounces how much to eat–if you convert those ounces into servings, it’s about same amount as they suggested before.  Plus, I don’t really agree with their number of recommended servings.  Eleven servings of grains is a LOT of carbs.  It does, though, give us an idea of what we should be shooting for.

Anyway, so, look at the chart of serving sizes and figure out how much, let’s say, milk you should be drinking each day.  That’s right, if you get ALL your dairy from milk, you can have 3 cups of milk a day.  That means no cheese.  No yogurt.  And certainly no ice cream! :)  Take a moment to look at other food you eat and compare the serving sizes with the daily amounts of servings you should be getting.  Are you getting WAY MORE food than you should be?  Most of us are.

If your health is a struggle for you (and for most of us it is) then I would almost be able to guarantee that a huge reason for that is because of HOW MUCH food you’re eating!  It doesn’t matter if you’re eating broiled chicken without the skin and asparagus for every dinner–if you’re eating half a chicken and an entire bunch of asparagus you will not lose weight–that’s just too much food!!!

Eating More Often

Secondly, we really should be thinking about WHEN we eat, too.  This may seem revolutionary, and, maybe it is.  Before I got pregnant–when I was teaching high school full time–I ate 6 small snacks a day.  So I was always eating something.  My second period eventually stopped asking what my yogurt and granola was and my fifth period got over the fact that I ate almonds every afternoon.  It kept my blood-sugar level from hitting the floor between meals and then skyrocketing right after.  I was rarely hungry!  But I was eating the right amount of food–I paid attention to portions and servings sizes and made sure that I was eating good, whole foods.

And then I got pregnant.  And then I got sick.  And then I gave up.

And here I am on the other side!  It took my fabulous sister-in-law, Claire, to remind me about eating more often!

Let me just tell you her story: She gave birth to my sweet, sweet niece, Sophia, and four months later found out she was pregnant with my second great niece, Alaythia. So Claire was pregnant for like two years straight.  It caused chaos on her body.  Well.  Four months ago she began eating tiny amounts of food every two hours (making sure she had the right amount of each food group a day and that she was eating proper portions) and she is today a size TWO.  TWO.  Let me say it again: a TWO.

Now, your body maybe wasn’t built to be a size two.  I don’t think mine was–if for no other reason than purely for the fact that I’m 5’7″.  But that doesn’t change the fact that Claire has never been this healthy before–the size 2 jeans she’s wearing aren’t the goal–it’s just the most obvious portrayal of how healthy she is now.  What I’m saying is that if you treat your body right, it’s a pretty good bet that it’ll become healthier.

A note about weight: The number you see on the scale is not the most important thing.  (In fact, I would say it’s not important at all.  I can gain and lose 5 pounds in a day depending on what time of day it is or how much salt I had the day before).  Neither is the size of your jeans.  I can barely fit myself into an American Eagle size 14.  However, at Express, I could wear like a 10 or 12.  And let’s not even talk about what size I’d be at Wal*Mart! :)  The point of this post is not to tell you you need to be a size 4 and weigh 125 pounds.  The point of this post is to get you thinking about how much you’re eating and when you’re eating it and to have you asses whether or not your current eating habits are the best–are you as healthy as you should be?  That’s all.

And so What Now!?

Take some time in the next few days to look at HOW MUCH food you eat.  ARE you eating too much?  Try to eat less.  Take a week to slowly draw back your (and your family’s) portion sizes to the amounts in the chart at the beginning of this post.  You may be a bit hungry at first, but being a little hungry never killed anyone.  Plus, just think of that hunger as your body eating away at your extra fat! :)

Secondly, take some time to consider WHEN you eat–think about eating every two or two and a half hours instead of only three times a day.  It just doesn’t make sense to eat a huge meal and then wait for 4 or 5 hours until you’re starving to eat again.  That’s just not good for your body.

The Flip Side

Because there’s always a flip side. Recently, I’ve realized that more and more of my friends don’t have the problem of eating too much.  They’re actually not eating enough!  A granola bar in the morning, a shake in the afternoon, and a few crackers in the evening is not healthy eating.  And it’s certainly not going to help you lose weight, if that’s what you’re after.  You have to get your metabolism pumping each day (preferably in the morning) and eating virtually nothing all day long day after day after day isn’t going to do it.  Basically, by not eating enough, you’re teaching your body to STORE up fat.  It figures out that it’s not going to get fed very much and so it hangs on to the fat you’re so desprate to get rid of–it hoards it up in case it’s going to be starved again in the future.  So, start eating more if you’ve been desperately trying to lose weight by eating nothing and haven’t seen the results you thought you would!

An Example Diet

Eat as soon as you wake up: have maybe a piece of peanut butter toast.  You may want half a banana as well. (eating right when you wake up will start your metabolism and help you burn fat throughout the day)

Two and a half hours later: have two egg whites scrambled and bit of low-fat cheese, all wrapped up in a whole grain tortilla.

Two and a half more hours later: eat half of a sandwich: try 3 oz. (total for the WHOLE sandwich) of sliced low-fat turkey breast and cheese and tomato and lettuce on whole wheat bread and have half an apple.

Two hours from then: have the other half of the sandwich and the other half an apple

Two hours from then: eat some green bell peppers wrapped up in a slice of low-fat meat (I like turkey meat) OR if that’s too much protein for ya, have some carrots and some almonds, and maybe throw in a small piece of chocolate (there’s no reason not to have some happiness unless, of course, your doctor told you not to) ;)

Two hours later: have another small, healthy snack.  Veggies are good, or protein.

Two and a half hours later it should be about dinner time and so eat with your family, but have the correct portions!!!! Maybe 3 oz. of chicken, some corn, and some brown rice

If you’ll be in bed within 3 hours of dinner, don’t eat again!  You may wake up hungry, but you’ll survive! If you absolutely must, have a small, healthy snack after dinner, like a small apple, or half an avocado, but try to make it three hours before you lay down for bed.

Just in case you weren’t keeping track, here’s the serving break-down for the above diet:

grains-  5           veggies-   4-6 depending on what you choose             fruits-  2 (not including the night snack)             dairy-  2              protein- 2 1/2-4 depending on what you choose

Some Last Pointers

By the way, you need to drink a LOT of water.  Take this test to find out how much you should be drinking. (I should be drinking about 13 cups of water a day–woah.)

Also, sleep is SUPER important.  You absolutely MUST be getting 6-8 hours of sleep for your body to function the way it’s supposed to.

Additionally, just in case you weren’t sure, I am not a licensed physician and any huge change to your diet should probably be talked over with your very own licensed physician.

And finally, I really think you should watch this clip of Brian Regan.  I might make you feel better after this post! :)

I hope this post has made you think about WHAT you’re putting in your body, HOW MUCH you’re putting in your body, and WHEN you’re putting it in there.  I also pray I didn’t offend you.  I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings–I’m trying to help you realize that the amount of food the food industry portrays as a meal is like three or four times what anyone actually needs to be eating.  Please feel free to ask any questions you might have–I’ve tried to be as clear and detailed as possible without writing a dissertation–I fear I may have failed. :)


One Response to “The Importance of Portion Control & Eating More Often”

  1. Johna990 said

    I really appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thx again! aegeecdbagfc

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