My Southern grandmother’s way of asking if we wanted more was not, “Would you like some more?” It was “What’ll you have?”
In other words, “Which of these delicious things will you have more of now?” And it was hard, both physically and socially, to not promptly pick your personal favorite of her offerings. For me it was her hot milk cake, her watermelon rind pickles, her homemade biscuits with homemade plum jelly or her sugar cookies. Notice the sweet theme…. oh yes, I was a sugar hound!! It was not only delicious but complimentary to have more.
Our culture has become very much about more. If you have’t seen Super Size Me, I highly recommend it for an eye opener on serving sizes (and other outrageously egregious practices) in fast food restaurants. The film has some rough language and frank talk about sex, so may not be appropriate for younger kids.
In the less is more and more is really more dichotomy of our culture that loves:
both skinny bodies and large breasts;
both many choices and extra large servings;
both designer names and cheap food;
both the most expensive health care system in the world and the 37th most effective health care system…
we are in a watermelon rind pickle indeed.
And apparently, it’s a much larger watermelon rind pickle than I ate as a child. Check out how portions have increased over the years (and this includes the size of plates!).
Of course, weight is not the only issue that we are concerned with here at The Pantry, but to be honest it is often the card that brings people to the table. It certainly played a role in my desire to eat more healthfully. Even so, controlling weight and embracing good health is about so much more than food. That’s why it is so difficult. Even Oprah Winfrey who can hire the best chefs in the world to prepare healthy food struggles with her weight. Food is so much more than nourishment to us. As Givers and Recipients of food we have a lot to sort through in order to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to food choices and the concomitant health effects we generate. We are trying to tackle different elements of the struggle in our Baby Steps series.
People will argue over whether what you eat or how much you eat has a greater impact on health and weight, but of course as is so often the case, the middle ground, or in this case, paying attention to both, makes a lot of sense. We have talked a lot in our Baby Steps series about WHAT you eat. We should put a little attention here on HOW MUCH you eat. Buckle up because American advertising and culture has set us up for a fall here.
As a teenager we had a Farrells’ Ice Cream Parlor in our town. Farrell’s had a ridiculously large banana split and a promise. If you finished the ridiculously large banana split, you got a button that said, “I made a pig of myself at Farrell’s!” This was to be worn with pride. I’m sure you’ve encountered similar contests at other restaurants. Big Bro (not to be confused with Biggest Bro of sneezing on his French Fries fame) once won a pie eating contest. His prize was a coupon for a free cheeseburger and fries at a local deli. He almost threw up when they announced his prize.
“More, more, more…. How do you like it, How do you like it? More, more more!” Click here for a trip down 70’s Disco Singer with Really Bad Hair Lane
There are a few tricks to eating less and one of them is to understand what an intended portion is. Knowledge is power, right? I think that this is one of the reasons why Weight Watchers is one of the few truly successful weight loss programs out there. They teach portion control. So, here are some tips for eating less…. eating less bad stuff…. and finally a few graphics to help your eyes and brain become accustomed to reasonable food portions.
1) Start with vegetables. It is not possible to eat too many vegetables. Really. I wouldn’t consume a whole bag of greens in one setting as you might be asking for a little digestive trouble, but seriously, you will know when you’ve had enough vegetables. Get your stomach a little full with vegetables.
2) Slow down. Lots of research shows that the hormones that indicate satiation take a little while to let us know we are full. That’s why sometimes you don’t get uncomfortably full until a little after you eat. You’re already full; you just don’t know it.
3) Use smaller plates. This is a restaurant trick and it works very well. A serving looks smaller on a large plate and larger on a small plate. Choose the smaller plate or bowl and then your eyes will be closer to the size of your stomach ;-)
4) Use Pre-emptive Produce. We talked about this once before… but it’s a trusted tool in our house. Before a snack of the salty or sweet variety can take place, a serving of fruit or vegetable must happen. Thus, my son eats a carrot or a half an apple before he can have some pretzels or a cookie after school. The smaller portion of snack is not as depressing when there is already food in the stomach, and the balance of healthy to less healthy is better.
5) When snacking – Put snack into a small dish and then put the bag / container away before taking dish to the couch or your desk or out on the deck. It is very hard to practice portion control with a whole box, bag or container of something you enjoy right in front of you.
6) Make extra of your favorite vegetable dishes and use them as a snack. We’ve been taught that snack means a handful of unhealthy items. Buck that trend and eat some roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets, or creamed kale or special green beans. You’ll be glad you did. And again – when was the last time somebody ate a whole container of vegetables? A whole bag of potato chips? A whole bag of oreos? An entire bunch of broccoli?
7) Share an entree at a restaurant with someone. You might be pleasantly surprised by how full you are for less money!
Here is a graphic that compares measured amounts with household items to let you better align portion size with recommendations.
Here is another that uses portions of your hand to describe measurements.
And remember to be kind to yourself! Change is not easy. It takes support and encouragement, and who better to give it to you than your own sweet self ;-) The beauty of Baby Steps is that a step backwards is small and easy to attempt again.
Please share portion control stories! Personally, I know that anyone who buys a Big Gulp could not possibly be a nurse on the way to work because nurses don’t get enough breaks in the day for a Big Urinate ;-)
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