About 7 years ago (before I became a nutritionist) I decided I was too heavy but I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t losing weight. I went to the gym most lunchtimes, cycled to and from work every day and didn’t eat an unhealthy diet but the weight wouldn’t budge. In desperation I spoke to my personal trainer at the gym and he said the magic words to me ‘Portion Control’.
If you are trying to lose weight one of the best lessons you can learn is to exercise portion control. To lose 1lb per week you need a 500 calorie deficit every day. This should be a combination of activity and eating less calories.
Have a look at the nutritional information on a small chocolate bar compared to it’s larger counterpart and see where the extra calories in our diet come from. A normal sized Snickers bar has 280 calories in it but the king sized version has 440 calories. The king sized version is made for sharing as it has two bars in it, which is fine if you share but if you eat it all you’ll be consuming an extra 160 calories.
From ‘all you can eat’ buffets to super sized meals the temptation to eat more is always there but you can make a big change to your weight by making an effort to eat smaller portions.
To start with only buy the ‘normal’ sized variety of any food – stay clear from the jumbo sized bag of crisps and the maxi sized latte. Once you get used to eating normal sized foods again you won’t notice the difference.
Another way to practice portion control is to look in your cupboards. I’m not talking about the food though but the crockery. Have a look at the size of your dinner plate or coffee mug and think back to when you were a child – are the ones in your cupboard significantly bigger than those you had as a child? If so, swap them for smaller ones because it’s natural to feel cheated if you only serve half a plate of dinner on a large plate rather than a full smaller one. Smaller plates mean smaller portions.
And lastly, look at the size of your evening meal. If it’s a lot bigger than lunch or breakfast you should think about cutting it down a bit especially as you will be burning less calories in the evening than the daytime. Eat less for dinner but compensate with an afternoon snack so you’ll be less hungry – try an oatcake with some peanut butter and a glass of milk at 4pm.
I followed these simple guidelines and I lost nearly 2 stone during the next year and have kept it all off. It wasn’t hard, didn’t require me to find difficult foods or buy expensive pills and potions – just common sense with a bit of knowledge. Make this a change for life and you will reach and remain at a healthy weight – imagine no more diets!