Mentally divide your plate into 4-quarters.
Next look at it as you would a clock:
Between 12 and 3: Fill with leafy green vegetables and your favorite salad veggies (minimally use healthy oils-not more than 1 teaspoon, or low carb salad dressings-not more than 1 tablespoon).
Between 3 and 6: Fill with your favorite “Rainbow” vegetables (strive for a variety having at least 2 or more out of the 5-colors per day).
Between 6 and 9: Fill with whole grains or starchy vegetables
Between 9 and 12: Fill with animal proteins or plant proteins.
THE PORTION SIZES WE GET ACCUSTOMED TO CREATES OUR CONSUMPTION NORMS
We develop our eating habits early in life around “consumption norms” which is not only what we eat, but how much. Carefully controlled studies of portion sizes have been conducted and indicate that psychologically we are influenced by many external factors as to what normal portion sizes look like, which therefore affects how much we eat, often this pattern becomes unconscious to us.
WHAT CAUSES PORTION DISTORTION?
Plate shapes and package sizes, lighting and layout, color and convenience--these are some of the hidden persuaders that can contribute to how much food a person eats, here are few other ways:
- Portions distortion in American restaurants, especially fast food joints, has led to super-sized drink sizes and value meals (more food for less money marketing strategy). Since the late 1970s this has coincided with an increasing geographic saturation of convenient dining options and these businesses have had to compete with each other for our dollars. As consumers we’ve gotten conditioned to expecting these portions and if we get less, than we don’t feel we’re getting value—our monies worth.
- The same portion distortion we see in restaurants can be found with the wide-range of sizes offered in supermarkets. With the introduction of less expensive generic products and price-leading brands, food companies and more popular brands realized the best way to compete is not with price-wars, but with size-wars. This has resulted in huge boxes of cereal and large double packs of all kinds of packaged foods—often found in warehouse club stores.
- The same super-sizing that has happened with serving sizes in restaurants and package sizes in grocery stores has also been happening in our homes. As people’s appetites have grown, so has the size of our dinnerware, glasses and flatware that we purchase for our home-use. The average dinner plate we commonly use today measures 11 or 12 inches across compared to plates measuring 7 to 9 inches in past decades. Many restaurants are using plates that are around 13 inches in diameter.
HOW CAN WE DOWNSIZE OUR CONSUMPTION NORMS?
Environmental factors influence eating because they increase consumption norms and decrease consumption monitoring. For example when we eat while watching TV, or utilizing our smart phones and I-pads, these are distractions that disconnect us from the food and lead to mindless eating and less satiety. Flat-out decreasing how much we eat by consuming smaller portions is another way, but that’s easier said then done.
Willing ourselves to not overeat from large servings, large packages, and large dinnerware will not suffice. The best approach to re-balancing our eating patterns is to change our environment. The answer is to eliminate large servings, large packages, and large dinnerware from our lives.
This can be done painlessly in small steps. A shopper can buy smaller sizes. A restaurant diner can split their orders in two, or order an appetizer instead of an entrée, or get a to-go box for half. At home, we can create our own single sizes, or use the plate method to control portion sizes and help select, as well as balance eating enough whole-nutritious foods that fuel our body cells.
By Judith Garner, Certified Health Coach
Helping people stay healthy inside & out!