These days, we’re more acutely aware of nutrition, diets and portions than ever before. New information is at our finger-tips 24/7 and health professionals, athletes, celebrities and social influencers are all chiming in on diet advice. Everyone is preaching a balanced diet with ‘portion control’ but for emotional eaters, controlling portions can be a huge trigger.
Does following portion sizes leave you feeling hungry, dissatisfied and frustrated?
Do you feel ashamed that you want to eat more?
Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve fallen into the trap of restricting my portions so drastically that I’ve ended up in a week-long binge. This is why I don’t try to ‘portion control’ anymore. However, I am still mindful of portion sizes. The difference is, now I eat mindfullyand I’ve learned to trust my body. Because mindful eating is slow and steady. It’s relaxed and enjoyable. There’s little room for overeating when you take the time to enjoy your food and the entire eating experience.
But maybe you’re looking to achieve a healthier weight and manage your emotional eating and so you want to watch your portion sizes. Well, instead of focusing on ‘controlling’ your portions and restricting your food intake too much (which could trigger over- and binge-eating), use this Guide to practice mindful eating with mindful portions:
Start Your Meal with Soup or Salad
Three-course meals aren’t just for special occasions! Starting your meal with a soup or salad increases your fibre and water intake which among many benefits, helps to keep you full and satiated. Personally, I love salads because the sheer volume of them take a while to consume and by the end, I feel like I’ve enjoyed a large portion of food. If you usually end your lunch or dinner and immediately look for a snack, try adding a “starter” soup or salad and see how you feel.
Add More Veggies – Eat the Rainbow!
If you have any picky eaters in your house, you may already be used to hiding veggies in your recipes. But we could all use some more veggies in our diets – especially because they’re high in fibre which helps keep you full and satisfied! Try baking with them (chocolate zucchini muffins, anyone?), mixing them in your fruit smoothies, spiralizing noodles and throwing them into soups, stews and stir-fries. The possibilities are truly endless! When you add more veggies to your meals, you add bulk which means you’re eating more with many nutritious benefits! It’s a win-win.
Presentation is Everything – Pretty Food Tastes Better!
When food is visually appealing, we’re more likely to take time to really notice and appreciate it. And when it looks good, it will taste good too! This appreciation for our meal is what mindful eating is all about. By delighting our senses, we feel more satisfied with our meal. So, even if you’re getting take-out or eating something simple, take a few minutes to display it in a creative way. And it’s not just about the food itself. Use nice dishes, napkins, and serving platters to make your food look pretty!
Start with a Smaller Portion
If you start with a small amount and finish it (and are still hungry), you can always go back for more! But if you start with a large portion and eat it too quickly, you’ve already overeaten before your body can send the signals telling your brain that you’re full. The key here is to start with a smaller portion while eating S-L-O-W-L-Y. When you slow down, you are able to engage all your senses which increases satiety. And this is how you will learn to trust your body. Because when you eat slowly, you give your body a chance to tell you exactly when it’s satisfied. Over time, with slow mindful eating, you will naturally learn which portions are right for you!