A few weeks ago I sprained my ankle running, so instead I’ve been doing yoga. Needless to say, these two activities are not the same, and after a few weeks I really started to notice a difference in my metabolism. I realized I was fuller for longer, and that I wouldn’t be hungry yet by the time dinner rolled around. I would eat too much for dinner and still had food in my stomach by the time I went to bed.
The problem was that I was stuck on auto-pilot around mealtimes and my portion sizes.
Has this ever happened to you?
This has been a good reminder. In the past I wouldn’t have even caught it until my pants started feeling too tight 😉
My first big lesson with portion sizes was right after my last season running cross country for NCAA. I went from running up to 60 intense miles a week to running an easy 30. That’s still a lot of miles, but the problem was I never changed my portion sizes. The consequence was I put on a lot of weight really quickly.
Around that time I went home for a visit, and I realized that my lean younger sisters were eating less than half of the portion size I was. This was a HUGE moment for me. My portion sizes looked ’normal’ to me. My sister’s portions, on the other hand, looked ‘girly’. My sisters didn’t exercise consistently, and yet they maintained their weight by their portion sizes, not high metabolism.
This observation changed everything. Restaurants serve everybody the same serving size, whether we are a man, a woman, active, inactive, young, or old. I started splitting my meals at restaurants with friends, ordering from the appetizer menu, or taking the rest home.
I faced my fear of starving and served myself ‘girly’ portions at home, realizing that in the modern world it was always possible to find more food if necessary.
One of my old teammates had also started struggling with her weight. She thought we were just getting older and that this is ‘normal’. Once she saw I had gotten back down to my ideal weight, and the portion sizes I was eating, she knew that was it. She cut her portion sizes down too and to this day she is as thin as she was at university, even after having a baby.
Here are 7 ways you can choose body-happy portion sizes:
- Split meals with friends or family at restaurants, order a salad, or order off the appetizer menu.
- Avoid eating food simply because you don’t want to waste it. Your body is not a garbage disposal. If you eat food you don’t need then you are still wasting the food and harming your body in the process.
- Rather than run on auto-pilot when it comes to portion sizes and mealtimes, make decisions based on what you need at that moment.
- Always put your food into a dish or plate and put the rest away in the kitchen, rather than eat right out of the bag or container. You’ll enjoy the food more and make conscious decisions about serving sizes. I like to use a small bowl like these Pyrex bowls or the cute ones Anthropology sells for snacks or desserts.
- Wait to eat until you are hungry. You have the rest of your life to enjoy food!
- Stop eating when you are satisfied, before you get full, no matter how much is left. Recognizing that ’satisfied’ feeling is like building a muscle: you have to practice. The better you get at listening to this the stronger the signal will become.
- Check out the guidelines in my Intuitive Eating blog post
Here are a few other ideas for those moments when you aren’t hungry but you are craving food:
- Drink water or tea. Peppermint Tea works well especially after dinner. This can be the signal to yourself that eating is over, plus it helps digestion.
- Brush your teeth. This is another signal that you are done eating.
Do you love good food? Great! You’ll savor each bite more when there is limited supply served in a dish with no guilt attached. Plus, rather than feel full and sleepy after a big meal, you’ll be energized and ready to go.
Do you have other ideas that have worked for you? Share in the comments below!
To a lean body and a satisfied tummy!