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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

February 2011: Fitness Section

Want to lose weight? Learn portion control!

“I don’t understand why I am not losing weight,” my client laments during a recent eating coaching session. “I only eat really healthy foods.”

If I had a dollar for every time I hear this statement during a coaching session, I could retire to Bali and never work another day in my life! The problem is that when most people who need to lose weight think about “healthy food” their mind instantly translates the word “healthy” into “slimming” and without even realizing it, they fall into one of the top three traps that blocks weight loss. This is the “healthy food will make me thin” trap.

Well, I am here to tell you that when it comes to energy metabolism, your body doesn’t care if you eat cookies and chips or brown rice and lentils. If you take in more energy in the form of food then you burn in a day, the food – healthy or not – gets repackaged and put into storage…..otherwise known as FAT! And brown rice fat looks exactly the same as cheesecake fat once it has been transitioned into storage on your body. So, healthy food AND unhealthy food will both make you fat unless you are practicing portion control. There is nothing magic about olive oil or nuts, and as healthy for your heart as they both are, if you  eat too much of them, you will not lose weight!

So if you want to lose weight, read on to discover some easy ways to practice eating portions that are more apt to result in weight loss.

Determining correct portion sizes

The recommended rate to lose weight in a healthful, not to mention manageable manner, is between .5 to 2 pounds per week.

I know that visions of the “Biggest Loser” come to the minds of many of my clients when I say this, but we don’t see that many of those contestants regain weight. The main reason being that when you eat less calories than your resting metabolism for a period of time, your body adapts. Your body’s main goal is survival, not looking good. So if it thinks there is a risk of starvation it does two things: first, it becomes very efficient with every calorie it gets, thereby reducing the number of calories needed to survive each day. Second, when food is available again or the dieter goes off the diet, the body kicks into high consumption mode so that fat is stored for the next time there is a famine (also known in the 21st century as a low-calorie diet with less calories than a person’s resting metabolic rate).

That said, the average woman (and adolescent child) can healthfully lose weight on 1,500 calories a day and the average man or very active adolescent can do the same on 2,000 calories per day. If you visit www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Resources/nibbles/pyramid_servings.pdf you will find the recommended servings per day for the major food groups.

Once you know the food groups and what a serving size is and how many servings you need per day, the issue becomes how do you track them at each meal so that you can either lose weight or maintain your weight?

Portion control plates

One of the most helpful ways I have found to accurately practice portion control is the use of portion control plates for a period of time. There are several versions of these plates available on the Internet, but the one I like the best is the EZ Weight Plate (www.ezweightplate.com).

It allows you to put measured servings onto the plate so that there is no guesswork or delusions as to what a cup or an ounce is. The EZ plate actually has 24 serving sizes that are cut into the plate. The top of the plate is flat, but the one cup serving has an indented area that won’t allow more food than allotted to fit in the space. Likewise, there is an area for one tablespoon and if you put more than this amount of dressing there, it simply will not fit.

Another portion control plate is called, appropriately, The Portion Control Plate (www.theportionplate.com). I like this one when working with children because it has brightly colored pictures of items that approximate a cup size or the recommended serving size for chicken, which is about the size of a deck of cards. When the food is placed over the pictures on the plate, the correct serving size should match the picture.

Mental pictures of portion sizes

If using a portion control plate is not appealing to you or you don’t realistically see yourself using weight control tool in your daily eating, then it is extremely helpful to have accurate images of portion sizes in your mind. This is helpful when going out to eat or when eating at someone else’s home.

There are some standard items that can be used as a reference for estimating portion sizes. For instance, the size of a standard baseball is approximately one cup. The size of a computer mouse is approximately one average serving of potato. The size of two dice is one ounce of cheese. One teaspoon of butter is the size of a scrabble tile.

A great website for a chart of common everyday items to use as references for serving sizes is www.myfooddiary.com/Resources/estimating_serving_sizes.asp. Once you get a few of these visual references in your head, it is easy to eyeball any plate of food and be able to accurately estimate the portion size or how much you need to leave on the plate in order to avoid overeating!

One of the most problematic areas for weight loss is the daily measurement of food portions that will result in healthy weight loss. Oftentimes, people are eating really good, healthy food, but without guidelines those foods will continue to make you fat or block you from losing weight so practice some form of portion control that can work for you!

Judy Torel is a USAT coach, personal trainer, nutrition consultant and psychotherapist. Her office is located in Planet Fitness, Loudonville. She can be reached at 469.0815 or [email protected].

Judith Torel
Judith Torel
Judith Torel is a lifestyle therapist, personal trainer, coach and consultant at Judy Torel's Coaching and Training Studio.

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