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Portions – sensible sizes for a better living!

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“HELP!”, screamed our eating habits this summer! Fast foods, high-calorie desserts, sweet & sugary drinks have more than filled us all up during this quarantine time. It is time to buck up and pay attention to managing weight through balanced food consumption. There are many ways to change the foods we eat – replace them with more nutritious alternatives, go natural, or my personal favourite, eat what you want, only with sensible portion sizes!

Don’t be fooled – this habit is not easily cultivated. It is one thing to say I will eat only 1 samosa and actually do it when there is a tray full of them in front of your eyes (and adding to that, lovely monsoon rain pouring outside your windows!). Portion control is an extremely tough challenge, and let’s face it, a restaurant serving sizes and their takeaway package sizes do not help at all.

A few years ago, when Chloe McLeod spoke with HuffPost Australia, she mentioned ‘Portion control is actually the cornerstone of good nutrition, other than making sure that you’re making healthy food choices.’ This is a perfectly said statement because we all wish to change our eating lifestyles to whole foods and natural options – but do we really know how much of each kind we must consume? It is a universal truth that we must eat the right amount of food in order to maintain good health.

Let’s see: you are working out for at least an hour daily, you are eating three meals a day, you have switched to all-all-natural diet but you’re still not able to see any desired result? Who knows? It could be the portion control missing from your schedule. It is not just important from a weight loss or management perspective; portion control helps in enhancing our relationship with food.

Guided by the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility, the more we eat of a certain item, the lesser satisfaction it is bound to give us. We must just consume enough to suit our bodies’ nutritive needs or those of our taste buds! Like I say, too much of anything is rarely a good thing. Constantly over-eating healthy food also can leave you sluggish and tired – it is simply the weight of the food you are carrying around until you digest it. Portion control allows just enough food into your system for an energy boost to your day!

Now that the heavy talking of the day is complete, here’s my two bits on how to get yourself into the habit of portion control – slowly and steadily:

Drink water before eating
Trust me, this really does work! A glass of water before eating fills you up well enough to help you eat less. When you’re dehydrated, you are likely to consume more food. By having one glass of water, you eradicate the dehydration at mealtime and end up saving just enough space for the food that your digestive system needs.

Fill your plate with veggies first!
Easy come, easy go with vegetables – the fibrous wonder of all our lives. Low in calories, rich in fibre and other micro-nutrients, vegetables will fill up your appetite while still not harming your nutritive intake. When it comes to filling your plate, opt for the non-starchy vegetable greens like lettuce, rocket, cucumber, zucchini, spinach and more. Add herbs for flavouring but keep your oils, proteins and carbohydrates to the recommended portion size.

Measure by your palm!
It’s always a task to know how much of each kind of product we really need. According to Fiona Tuck, a well-known nutritionist, ‘Remember to keep protein the size of the palm of your hand, the tip of the finger as serve size of butter, a quarter of an avocado per serve and no more than the size of a matchbox for cheese.’ This will help you fill half your plate with greens and the other half with proteins and carbohydrates.

No to plastics!
When you eat the food right out of a container or plastic, it becomes tougher to gauge the portions you are consuming! Deceptively small, these containers end up feeding you much more than your plate would.

Time your portions – keep aside a third of your meal!
As an excited over-eater, I tend to keep a portion of my meal aside for a small second meal. Hunger usually takes about 20-30 minutes to set in, and that’s when we want something small to munch on! By the time the second meal is completed, the chances are that you will not require a further snack. Or, you could always sneak in a Gouri’s Goodies Energy Bar for a quick bite in-between meetings or when you head in for a nap post-lunch.

Along with these little tips and tricks, it is essential to know that meals must be balanced in terms of their macro-nutrients: a source of protein, a source of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. For example, including chickpeas, lentils, barley, brown rice, quinoa and sweet potato are good sources of carbohydrates that break and digest slowly.

Healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, natural or cold-pressed, locally produced and sourced oils keep us more satiated and work wonders for the skin, hair and body (ladies, you know you need this one!). Good quality proteins like organically-sourced chicken and fish, along with tofu, soybeans and other sources, help improve your energy levels.

In the wise words of Francois de la Rochefoucauld, ‘To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.’, I leave you with portion control thoughts on your mind! Time to complete that Gouri’s Goodies Mini-bite and get cracking with a notebook and your quick notes on a better meal management regime!

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