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Getting Ready: Smaller Meals for Maintenance

Monday, September 16, 2013

Before I started on this journey, my eating habits were out of whack. I never knew what I was going to eat and when. It was pretty much fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, eat whatever I was craving, whenever I was craving it. And of course, I had the "Clean Your Plate", Emotional Eating, "Eyes Are Bigger than Your Stomach" mentality as well.

And then there's the "You Can't Eat Just One Chip" problem. I start out being good and portioning out a serving size - 2 or 3 Oreos (I can never remember what the actual serving size is!), 9 Doritos, a 1/2 cup of ice cream. But that doesn't last long - before I knew it, I was done and headed back to the kitchen for more. And more. Until I gave up on the serving size and just took the package or bag or whatever.

The fact is, it's not necessarily wrong to eat certain foods. What's wrong is the unlimited portions I have and the over-reliance on foods that aren't going to keep me full longer than a couple of minutes. If I could just stop at 2 or 3 Oreos, yes, it wouldn't be good I chose Oreos over nuts or a small salad, but it's still not terrible. What *IS* terrible is eating more and more Oreos until I've downed half the package.

This problem isn't solely about eating too much "bad foods"; it is just as easy to overeat on the "good foods". It does me no good to build up a recipe book of healthy recipes if I am going to eat 2X - 3X the allotted serving size. A salad is good, but loading up on too many croutons and salad dressing and nuts still adds calories that can cause me to gain unnecessary weight - even though "technically" I am being good by eating a salad!

If you've ever tried to lose weight, you've all heard the number 1 piece of advice: "Portion Control". Portion control keeps us eating a healthy portion to fuel our bodies. Portion controls allows us to eat the "naughty foods" in a balanced way.

But in this day and age, portion control is harder than ever. Just go into a restaurant and fast food joint. The plates are HEAPING with food. If you start splitting up the food on your plate, you start seeing how it can be lunch AND dinner and maybe even lunch for the next day! And yet, it's all served as if to be eaten in one meal!

How do I combat this, as I move away from Medifast Meals into real food?

First off, I need to familiarize myself with correct portions. That means doing research - how much is a serving of chicken? Cheese? Bread? Soup? SparkPeople is even kind enough to provide some resources so I can SEE how much I should be eating:



The next thing I can do is to start using the new Choose My Plate, which has replaced the Food Pyramid. Using a 9" plate, it shows what I should be eating and how much. It's simple and pretty easy to understand (instead of quibbling over the categories and wondering how MUCH to eat of each).


I'm already pretty used to eating smaller portions, but that's because the MF meals are packaged that way. As I move into transition and maintenance, it's important that I learn these skills, like I would learn to read or write or do math or ride a bike. My health is important to me and making sure my body has the necessary nutrients for me to keep my active lifestyle is critical to my success in the next stage of my health journey.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    It was really helpful for me to learn what a 3-ounce portion of meat really looks like. No matter how much I am served, I eat 3-ounces and save the rest for the next meal or two. (I'm not much for sweets, but savory things are risky for me.)

    It helped me to invest in real measuring cups and spoons and to USE them. Many people have recommended a food scale -- that may be helpful to you.

    Pay attention to the number of servings per package. If your salad dressing is supposed to contain 10 servings and you find the bottle empty after 4 days, you need to actually take the time to measure.

    Some portion-size reminders are more helpful than others. When I was told a portion of cheese resembled two dice, I instantly imagined the big fuzzy dice people hang from their rear view mirrors.

    I remember when Oreos first advertised their single-serving package. I thought one pound WAS a single serving.

    You're smart to start looking into all the stuff now. It's not going to be learned overnight. Best wishes to you!

    1642 days ago
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    1643 days ago
    I love this new my plate icon! It is definitely better than the food pyramid which is visually much more difficult to translate into action. The my plate gives you a clear action plan! Make up your plates like THIS and you will be eating more healthy!

    One thing that will be critical as you switch to eating none carefully packaged and calorie counted foods is getting used to counting calories on your own. The nutrition tracker on spark is great and you can really use the serving size guidelines to keep yourself on track with your calories for the day!

    I know you've got this :D

    1643 days ago
    WOW I am shaking my heqd yes yes yes. portion and control my problems exactly... Pre packaging is great for me to do. Good luck on your next stage
    1643 days ago
    I know you can actually buy plates that are divided up into the correct portions for food groups.

    1643 days ago
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