Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Fit 4 Life | Portion control made easy

Published:Wednesday | October 11, 2017 | 5:01 PMMarvin Gordon

THE KEY to weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. Portion control – understanding how much of any food should be eaten to maintain health and fitness – is important to keeping weight off as well as ensuring proper nutrition to keep us functioning daily.

The mere mention of portion control might make your stomach growl, but it doesn't mean you need to starve yourself in the attempt to maintain healthy weight.

Follow these tips for portion control without feeling deprived:

CUT SUGARS AND SOLID FATS

Reducing solid fats and added sugars will go a long way in cutting our daily calories. Cut back on fast foods and refined grains, like white bread.

Fats that are solid at room temperature usually have a high saturated and trans-fat content. Trans-fats should be avoided and saturated fats should only contribute 10 per cent of your calories. Butter, coconut oil, animal fats in meat, dairy, bacon and chicken skin are high in saturated fats.

EAT FROM SMALLER PLATES 

If you clean your dinner plate, you're probably overeating.

To cut your portions:

• Eat from a smaller dish.

• Learn and serve proper portion sizes.

• Don't go for seconds.

• Don't keep extra food in reach to tempt you.

• Store leftovers in single-serving containers for quick meals.

EAT MORE NUTRITIOUS FOODS

• Reduce your intake of fatty meats, and go for lean protein and seafood.

• Replace solid fats like butter or margarine with olive oil, and other oils that are good for your waistline and heart.

• Replace baked goods and cereals made from refined grains, with whole grains.

• Eat more beans, fruits and vegetables. 

BE CAREFUL WITH PACKAGED SNACKS

Beware of packaged/processed snacks such as crackers, cookies, or potato chips and other such snacks. Most people end up eating more than they realise, and the calories add up. If you must eat packaged snacks, choose foods packaged in individual serving sizes.

WHAT TO DO WHEN EATING OUT?

Restaurants usually serve one person enough food for two or three.

But you don't have to eat it all.

• Order smaller portions.

• Box up a portion of the food before you start eating.

• Share the meal with a friend.

• Eat a healthy appetiser and soup or salad instead of an entrée. 

CHECK YOUR CALORIES

Calorie requirements depend on your age, gender, and level of activity. The average inactive woman needs 1,600 to 1,800 calories a day; an active average man needs 2,400 to 2,800 calories.

Use one of the many online calorie calculators to get an estimate of your needs, and try to consume a healthy balance of foods each day. 

LEARN TO EYEBALL A PORTION SIZE 

Check food labels and restaurant menus for hidden calories. Learn to ‘eyeball’ your food to gauge how much to eat. You don't need to weigh or measure your food every time you eat.

Instead, keep a mental image, e.g.:

 • A deck of cards for a serving of protein,

• Two tennis balls for one serving of leafy greens,

• A fist for a serving of fruits and vegetables,

• A CD for one serving of pancakes,

• A light bulb for two servings of rice.

Doing this makes it easy for you to imagine healthy portion sizes.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach. Email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com