Stews, steamy puddings and toasty treats by the fireplace – winter is the ideal time to overindulge a little (or a lot) more than we should, which makes it all the more difficult to shape up again for summer. The trick to enjoying those foodie spoils while keeping your waistline intact is portion control.
Eat Well Live Well, a Tiger Brands health and nutrition initiative, help get us back on track with these five tips to help you control your portions:
- Balance starts on your plate
Fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with starchy high-fibre foods (such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta) and the remaining quarter with protein (such as chicken, lean meat, fish, eggs, beans or legumes). TIP: Eat your fruit instead of drinking them. You’re more likely to overeat fruit when you blend multiple fruits into smoothies or juices. Fruits contain fructose (a naturally-occurring sugar) that spikes blood sugar levels. If you eat fruit fresh and whole instead, you’re unlikely to eat more than two or three in a single serving because the fibre fills you up.
2. Portion control starts on your shopping list
Planning your meals for the week ahead and shopping with a shopping list is key to better eating and spending habits. When you know what you’ll be cooking and what you need to buy, you’re less likely to impulse buy foods that are not on your list. And when you’re satiated while shopping, you’re less likely to be tempted by hunger pangs to buy snacks and treats in the check-out aisle. TIP: Buy a weekly treat in a single serving size or portion, rather than a large packet, so you’re not tempted to finish it in one sitting.
3. Hunger control starts with regular meals
You might think skipping meals means you eat less and therefore should lose weight, but you are actually doing the opposite. Skipping meals (especially breakfast) makes you more likely to overeat during the next meal or later in the day. This means you’ll often end up eating the same amount of kilojoules in a day just over two meals, instead of three. When we experience a drop in blood sugar, we might reach for a quick energy fix that is often high in sugar, fat or salt. Find balance by eating regular, portion-controlled meals that are not too energy-dense. TIP: Eat dinner earlier rather than later, as the body does not metabolise glucose in the same way later in the evening (at 10pm rather than 6pm) due to the changes happening in the body because of our sleep-wake cycle. When you give your body time to rest, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed.
4. Slow down
Make eating an occasion that’s shared with family, friends or colleagues. When you take the time to eat slower, you’ll take smaller bites, will eat smaller portions and are less likely to overeat. Chewing slowly and socialising during meals gives your brain enough time (about 20 minutes) to receive messages from the stomach that it’s full. TIP: Wait for at least 15 minutes before taking seconds.
5. Have a drink with your meal
Drinking a glass of water 15-30 minutes before you eat helps to manage portion control and make you feel fuller faster. Drink water or unsweetened, low-calorie drinks with your meals, rather than calorie-dense drinks, such as cold drinks, juices and energy drinks.
TIP: Fibre-rich foods require good water intake. Drinking water may help to move the food through the digestive tract and aid with digestion.