Size Matters: how to get your portions under control (and not starve!)

If you’re new to fitness and health you may have gotten some great gains to begin with and now you’ve hit a plateau, or you may never have gotten many real weight loss results although you are fitter and stronger feeling. I guarantee this is because of what you are eating, and how much.

I am not even remotely suggesting you go on a diet, not even a little. I am suggesting you take up lifetime healthy eating habits. The suggestion is that you eat real food, that you eat all you want in the realm of vegetables, beans and legumes, and never starve yourself. That you get the right nutrients at the right times. And yes, at first this will seem like a diet because initially you will miss many of the “foods” and mindless quantities you previously indulged in.

I’ll be very brief on this first point, and delve deeper in the next installment on the “what”. Eat good food. You know what really good food is, it’s something your ancestors would have made to eat for a regular meal. Not a fancy meal, not for dessert or special occasions. That’s the short “what”, but let’s start off with the real detail in how much.

“Why start with how much?” you ask. Well because if you start with the right amount and the wrong food you quickly learn that you’ll starve. If you’re supposed to eat 7 servings of vegetables a day and only 3 servings of fat, you will quickly find yourself eating vegetables. While there are definitely better and worse vegetable preparation choices, you will still be eating much better than if your balance were leaning towards 7 servings of meat or dairy.

The most important notes on portion are the following

Measure your portions: eyeballing is good in a pinch, or once you’re an expert, but measuring keeps you honest. Even once you’re pretty experienced you’re best to return to the measuring cup for a week or so every once in a while, again it keeps you honest with yourself.

Learn what a serving is: A serving of cooked vegetables is different from raw. Nuts are measured at a 1/4 shelled. Some nuts and fruits, like macademia and avocado for example are high in fat and best considered fats instead of proteins or fruit, respectively. They are healthy fats, but fats nonetheless. Most cheeses have a bite-size amount as a serving, but cottage cheese is a whole cup per serving, and ricotta a 1/2 cup.

Understand the difference between a serving size, packages’ “serving size”, and portion size: The Canada Food Guide, American Food Pyramid, and most other bodies that advise on health (and even diets) have a fairly standard way of categorizing and measuring foods. Companies producing these foods do not always adhere to these standards when delegating a serving size to their food, it is often not particularly relative to anything we relate to a standard serving size, be wary of this when eating foods with nutrition information. The more processed and hard to categorize a food is, generally the more inconsistent their ideas of serving sizes are. Portion size is how much you put on your plate. You could eat 2 servings of bread in one meal and that would be 1 portion. People will use these words interchangeably and sometimes without much understanding. Now you know the difference, say whatever you want, as long as you understand the difference!

So take a look at one of the food guides and start to learn about how much of each food you should be eating every day for your sex and age (these are general guidelines, if you are very active at work or play you may need more!. This alone should help you to start yielding some results.

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© Lisa Kingsley-Correia and Create Fitness Health and Wellness, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Kingsley-Correia and Create Fitness Health and Wellness with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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