How Much Is Too Much?

Watching ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’ recently I was amazed at how peoples’ perceptions of what they thought was a ‘healthy’ amount of food differed and I wondered if it was really a lack of knowledge or was it denial that their eating habits were so poor?

Ideally we should be eating three meals a day with a couple of light snacks in between if hungry. We should aim to eat every 2 -3 hours or when we are hungry. However those that fail to eat for most of the day need to over-ride their lack of hunger signal and eat at 3 hour intervals to ensure that they adopt a more realistic and healthy eating pattern, likewise so should those who overeat. Over-eaters need to forget to listen to their hunger pangs and eat every 3 hours too and decrease portion size too!

So what constitutes an ideal portion for meals? Well if you consider that your stomach is roughly the size of your fist (go on have a look at your fist now – it’s not that big really is it?) then this will give you an idea of roughly how much food you should eat at every meal. So a packet of sweets isn’t enough (not to mention the sugar content and lack of nutrition!!) and a plate overflowing with roast potatoes, meat and veg followed by apple pie and custard is certainly way too much.

Eating too less or too much ‘trains’ our brain to accept this eating pattern and we therefore get into a habit of eating poorly however just as you once  learnt this poor eating behaviour you can just as easily unlearn it and create a healthier approach to eating. Perseverance is key and by focusing on the end result (a thinner you or a healthier you) you will ultimately feel more motivated.

Unfortunately we are over-faced with large portions everywhere we go so we tend to ‘see’ large portions as ‘normal’ when in fact they are far from it!  McDonald’s small fries were once sold as large fries! Can you image that? Blame the Americans if you like but it’s you that’s ultimately responsible for what you eat and the amount.

If you do overeat a simple trick to help you cut down on portions size is to reduce the size of our plate. Simple but incredibly effective and this is one of the first things I advise all my weight loss clients to do. Not only are you getting a more realistic idea of the amount of food you should be eating (less) but you are also tricking your mind into believing that you are eating the same amount of food as you used to, so you will still feel full! (trust me this really does work!)

Why does this simple idea work? Well your mind is very visual and responds to the images it sees and if it’s used to seeing a plate full of food it will automatically expect a plate full of food at meal times. So if you reduce your portion size and keep the same plate size, it will look less on the plate and your mind will interpret this as ‘not enough’ food, as the plate isn’t full. like it usually is, so you may well still feel hungry after.

However if you swap your plate to a medium sized one, the smaller portion will look more on a smaller plate than a larger one (plate looks full) so your mind still  ‘sees’ that the plate is full of food and as before, will expect you to be full at the end of it too!

So next time you hear yourself making excuses for the size of your portions take a quick look at your fist and take a reality check. And change those plates!

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