I’m not the type of gal who carefully measures each and every scrap of food before consuming it – I am more of an eyeball and record it person. I know I should probably be more diligent in tracking precisely what I put in my mouth, but I don’t want this process to become tedious. It needs to remain sustainable and, ultimately, I am the one who knows what will work long term in my life.
So how am I adapting portion control to work for me? I chew thoughtfully, pause while eating, and choose a little more wisely. I attempt to incorporate fruits and vegetables onto my plate the majority of the time and recognize that whatever I am having won’t be my last meal.
Slowly has been the key to my thoughtful munching. S.L.O.W.L.Y. I force myself to put on the breaks and not fly through a meal like a wolverine. Occasionally, before I began walking the path to better health, I would be ravenously shoving food down my gullet and realize that I wasn’t tasting anything… that I was more like a wild animal in that moment than an intelligent human being. Mind you, the creatures found in nature are not generally know for expanding to twice their normal size unless preparing for hibernation or migration, so I guess that theory is shot. I was not getting ready for sleep nor travel. I was just falling into old habits formed by my initial emotional eating patterns, but now I consciously tell myself to decrease the speed of my consumption.
Along the same lines, I have been trying to deliberately make myself put down the fork or finger food after several bites to stretch out the eating process. I figure if I take a similar amount of time to eat as I was before, I can trick my brain into thinking that I am consuming the same amount of food. Plus, my body is given a bit more time to have that ‘full feeling’ mechanism kick in.
Another tactic that I have been utilizing is considering if I really need to take as much as I want. That is an important distinction to make: the difference between wanting and needing. So, I get the six-inch sub instead of the twelve-inch, use only one serving of spread and not twice as much like I always have, and toast a single English muffin as opposed to two or even three. I take bites instead of pieces if there is something indulgent that I really, really want to try. I choose to put slightly smaller amounts of the fattier ingredients than what is called for into recipes, whereas that never would have even crossed my mind in the past.
I push myself to come up with creative ways to include fruits and vegetables on my plate. Even if I just add celery sticks to a meal, I at least feel that I am using up some of the room that could have alternatively been a more fattening or calorie laden item. I also work at combining produce with the rest of my meals. Adding more vegetables to my wraps means less cheese, putting tomatoes on a piece of toast results in the avoidance of peanut butter, and bulking up an omelet with mushrooms and onions leads to fewer eggs being necessary for the same satisfied feeling.
Closely tied to choosing with more discretion, I fight my mind’s inclination to try and convince me that if I don’t have more now I will never get another opportunity to eat whatever I am enjoying. This used to be one of my biggest pitfalls. I tasted a food, wanted more, and told myself that if I didn’t have it I would not be able to get it at a later time. What?!? I recognize the absolute absurdity of this thought process now and, thankfully, can persuade myself otherwise if the old faulty logic revisits me at a weak moment. Now, I know that if I really want more of what I'm eating later, I will be able to do exactly that.
It is worth mentioning that I also have a rather backwards strategy that I haven’t mentioned yet. I don’t limit my intake of fruits or vegetables at all. I used to be so bad for eating them that I desperately needed to create a motivation for enjoying them instead of turning my nose up at the thought of a carrot, apple, or salad. So I decided at the beginning of this journey to eat as much of them as I wanted, thereby never ever being left with the feeling of deprivation. I don’t want to find myself at the end of a morning or afternoon binge and have it in my head that I can’t eat anything else for the whole day. That’s just setting myself up for failure. Because of this major adjustment in my thinking, I can now say that fruits and vegetables are my friends.
Although I am not controlling my portions in a more traditional way, I do believe that I have made significant progress towards eating less than I was. More importantly, I am putting foods that are good for my body into it as opposed to the unhealthy options that I used to frequently choose. Things are going really well and I think that in doing what works for me I am truly setting myself up for long term success.