It’s time to start a new year of my Small Steps series. You can read about the philosophy and strategies of the series here.
If you started the series mid-way through the year last year, continue to build upon your fitness journey throughout the early months of this year.
If you completed the entire series last year, congratulations! You are well on your way to a lifestyle that supports strength, health, balance, stamina, energy and overall feelings of well being. Use the Small Steps posts at the start of each month to serve as gentle reminders of the keys to fitness and recommit to those healthy habits, particularly the ones that are most challenging for you.
If you’re new to Small Steps, welcome! Join in and learn the path to a fit and happier life.
January’s Small Step: Portion Control
Have unlimited fruits and vegetables but proteins, grains/starches and fats (including those that may go on or with fruits and vegetables) need to be portioned out. At meals, proteins and grains should each take up only 1/4 of your plate leaving the other half for produce. Cereals, dressings, dairy, nuts, nut butters, condiments, alcohol and anything else that’s poured or scooped out of a container should be measured to the recommended serving size. At first, don’t guesstimate – actually measure. This will take a little bit of time investment on the front end. But, over time, you’ll know exactly how much cereal and milk to pour into your bowl or wine to pour into your goblet to constitute the appropriate serving size. Although, it’s not a bad idea to audit yourself every once in a while – it’s human nature to cheat up over time.
Portion control isn’t just for meals. Practice it with snacks and, most especially, treats. Again, measure out portions and don’t eat directly out of the container. We have a tendency to binge on high calorie foods because we rationalize that we’re blowing the diet, concluding we’ve already failed – doomed whether we eat two cookies or half the box. The truth is a treat here or there won’t erase all the good you’ve done but a whole container could. The better way to look at it is to accept that treats are a part of your diet, not apart from it. They should be consumed, enjoyed and savored in the correct portions. In reality, if you allow yourself small indulgences when you crave them, you actually begin to crave them less.
More easy tips to help you with portion control:
- Always have a water bottle with you. Often, we think we’re hungry when we’re actually just dehydrated. Drinking more water helps cut down on over-snacking.
- Use a smaller plate, it gives you the visual illusion that you’re eating more than you actually are.
- Eat sitting at a table with no distractions (no TV, smartphone, book).
- Eat slowly and make a point of tasting and enjoying your food.
- After portioning out meals at home, place vegetable/fruit sides on the table family-style while leaving remaining meat and starches away from the table.
- Plan and shop for meals ahead of time.
- Purge high-calorie, highly-processed, low-nutrition food from your pantry and office.
- Plan ahead before eating out.
- When dining out, eat half your entrée and bring the rest home for a 2nd meal.
Join the movement and share your success stories, tips and questions along the way. We’ll all benefit from shared experiences and knowledge.
Author’s Note: I am an exercise professional, not a nutrition professional. My diet recommendations are based on the most current science-backed information provided by nutrition professionals in the fitness industry. Mine are general recommendations that are in line with the guidelines published by the US Dept of Health and Human Services for apparently healthy individuals. If you have a health condition that requires dietary restrictions, I recommend consulting a medical doctor or registered dietician before making any changes to your diet. Always consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.