Sunday, April 19, 2020

Retrospective #428: Portion Control

Weight loss strategies are full of advice to control portion size…but nobody wants to measure! So, instead of a scale, we are counseled to use a clenched fist to estimate a protein portion. We are told to use a small plate because then a full plate makes the serving size look bigger. Both devices work, but if you continue to eat a “restricted calorie,” “balanced” diet, full of nutrient-poor, high-carbohydrate, “processed” foods, you’re still going to be hungry.
Alternatively, if you are eating a Low Carbohydrate diet, you can fill your small plate with energy-dense protein and fat, and one or two low-glycemic veggies (carbohydrates), and you will feel full and remain sated for a longer time.
And if you are eating a Very Low Carb diet, you can eat these same healthy foods…or not. That is, you can skip a meal without hunger and save both time and money. Case in point: I am never hungry at “breakfast.”
Eating three meals a day is a social construct and a cultural habit. We’ve been told (by the cereal and juice makers) that it’s important to “start the day off well with a big breakfast” and “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” And guess what? It’s usually all carbohydrates, like fruit juice, cereals with milk and added sugar, or sugar-laden yogurt or bread (made from flour, water and sugar), with jelly, or tea with honey.
Result: our blood sugar spikes, then crashes, and it’s mid-morning snack time and then lunchtime, so we scarf down more carbs. By mid-afternoon, our blood sugar crashes again and it’s time for a nap…or a snack (candy bar, anyone?).
Do you see a pattern here? Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Well, maybe a diet of 3 carb-heavy meals a day, plus snacks – a diet that is 55% to 60% carbs, or higher – is the problem! Maybe a change in what and when we eat, or even why we eat, would fix that problem.
For me, portion control begins with the 3 precepts (Hat tip to Diet Doctor): 1) Eat strictly a Low Carb Diet, 2) Eat only when hungry and 3) Use Intermittent Fasting as needed to reach and maintain a stable weight.
Here are a few practical tips that I use that you might want to consider:
1) For “Breakfast,” I have “downsized” and just drink a medium-sized mug of coffee with my morning pills.  I add a dash of stevia powder and a small pour of heavy cream to color and flavor the brew. I now get 3 weeks per quart, at about 1½ oz/pour (150kcal). If you eat them (I don’t anymore), eggs & bacon are portion controlled. Cereals are not.
2) For “Lunch,” if I eat lunch, I eat from tins:  a tin of kippered herring in brine, or Brisling sardines in olive oil or water. The small tin limits the meal, and it is all protein and healthy fats. Alternatively, I might have a hardboiled egg or two.
3) During the day I only drink a beverage that will not raise my blood sugar. I drink cold-brewed iced tea, “sweetened” with liquid stevia. I have tested this drink multiple times and it does not raise my blood sugar.
4) For “Supper,” if I am not fasting, I eat two small, pasture-raised lamb chops (an 8-rib rack provides 2 meals for 2 people), or half an 8oz Sam’s Club filet mignon, or one chicken breast or a thin-sliced pork chop. We also share a low-glycemic vegetable, either tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil, or a salad with my homemade vinaigrette dressing.
5) For a supper beverage, I prefer one or two 5oz portions of red wine in a glass filled with seltzer. I know it’s only 5oz because I always get 5 pours from a 750ml (25.36oz) bottle. Sometimes I have our cold-brewed iced tea instead.
6) If I have an “nervous eating” urge to eat after supper, I use the wine glass for a Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar Cocktail: 1 Tbs of vinegar, a few dashes of bitters, and several drops of liquid stevia; add ice, swirl and fill the glass with seltzer.
If you’re not hungry most or virtually all the time, as you are NOT when you eat Very Low Carb, then portion control will be…ahem, a piece of cake. BECAUSE YOU DON’T THINK ABOUT EATING OR PORTION CONTROL WHEN YOU’RE NOT THINKING ABOUT FOOD. And, about that piece of cake; you won’t crave it. You can enjoy cake or ice cream on special occasions, but you won’t NEED a carb snack to keep from falling asleep. You’ll be full of pep and “vinegar.” ;-)

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