Tuesday 27 September 2016

Top tips on how to keep portion sizes under control

We overeat because we're not paying attention to our meals, says our expert trainer, who has some tips to keep dinner on track

Karl Henry

Published 12/04/2016 | 02:30

Karl Henry: we need to pay attention when eating.
Karl Henry: we need to pay attention when eating.

Recently while watching a health show on TV, I watched a fascinating segment on the quantity of food that we eat and just how big the volume of food on our plates is. Scary stuff.

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In Ireland we almost have a fascination with finishing our meals - whatever is placed in front of us must be eaten regardless of how full we are and the portions placed in front of us are very big indeed.

We eat with distractions all around us, meaning that we eat too fast and we know from research that we eat what is placed in front of us and are as happy and full regardless of portion size.

When clinically tested, people reported the same level of fullness even those each of the three meals had 300 calories more than the previous one. We eat with our eyes and our fullness levels relate to that too. Combine this with the speed that we eat and we eat too much, too fast and gain weight.

This is especially true when combined with highly processed and high sugar foods which are naturally higher in calories than their natural and real substitutes.

Next time you go to the cinema, look at those in the queue in front of you, and then watch what they order before the film.

When trying to buy the popcorn/drink that they actually want, they will be asked if they want to go large for a small fee, most will choose this option as it seems like such better value than what they are ordering.

Even though they don't want the large, they buy it and will eat it during the movie.

It's always fascinating to look at, you will see it in fast food restaurants too, the whole idea of being super sized ensures we eat more than we need, our inner built determination to finish the food that is placed in front of us.

So what can you do about it? Eat more slowly

One of the easiest solutions - by slowing down your eating, you will fill up quicker, as the brain takes around 20 minutes to register a feeling of fullness, by which time it's possible you have already overeaten!

Ideally put down your knife and fork in between each bite and chew your foods.

If you still eat too fast then try using chop sticks to eat with.

What sounds silly will actually force you to eat more slowly and chew smaller portions of food, meaning that your stomach has less work to do, you digest your food better as an overall result and you will dramatically improve your digestion. Reduce the size of your plate

If you reduce your plate size by 10pc, then you will be reducing the quantity of food that you eat.

This is an especially good tool if you are concerned about the quantity of food your family eats.

Just change the plates and once the change isn't too big then no one will notice!

And 10pc less per day is a lot less food over time.

You can even get what is called a portion plate in your local chemist or online, which has segments on the plate for the different food groups, so you fill up the plate with the ideal amount of those food groups.

It makes things really simple and easy to follow and it also gives you very few excuses.

Fill up the plate with vegetables

Vegetables contain the best type of carbohydrates you can get, as well as minerals and vitamins.

They are certainly healthier than the processed carbs that are refined of much of their nutrients.

They will fill you up, are fantastic for your stomach health and for your digestion.

Certain vegetables may not agree with you, causing bloating etc so be mindful of this but you will know pretty quickly which ones cause digestion problems.

Protein and vegetables make the perfect meal so make this simple switch and especially get colourful vegetables on to that plate. Eat your dinner away from the television

Mindless eating can have a big influence on what you eat, staring at the television and eating your dinner is never a good idea.

This has a direct link to the quantity that you eat.

Eat at the dinner table, away from your phone, your television and focus on the food that's on your plate, letting your mind relax as you eat.

If you have a family, this is one of the best ways to improve your family health, getting the family together, chatting at the table and focusing on the family unit.

New research from the United States has found that there is a direct relationship between the quantity of time spent eating at the table as a family and obesity rates within the family.

It's a really simple switch but one with a big impact.

You will be amazed at how much less you eat and how much more you enjoy your food too as you aren't eating with distraction.

These are some simple tips that will help you eat less and also eat more slowly, helping you to become healthier the easy way. It takes very little effort to do it too.

It can be just that easy folks, so try these tips and see how you get on.

Irish Independent

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