Controlling Portion Size For Weight
ManagementBy Edward Abramson, Ph.D. - Author of
Body Intelligence: Lose Weight, Keep It Off,
and Feel Great Without Dieting!
If you observe carefully you're
likely to find that you eat more than you need. There are several steps you can
take to reduce the size of your portions without being hungry or feeling
First, and most obvious, is to
emphatically say "no" when asked, "Supersize that?" If you just can"t pass up a
"bargain," bring along a friend, order the larger size, and split it between
the two of you. Otherwise, remind yourself that the regular portion will
satisfy your physical hunger. Several studies have demonstrated that when you
eat a food until you're no longer hungry, it stops tasting good. The extra food
in the jumbo size wouldn't have provided any additional enjoyment; it would
have just left you feeling bloated and angry with yourself, so you shouldn't
feel deprived when declining jumbo portions.
Second, recognize that controlling
portion size requires that you read the labels carefully to avoid being misled.
For example, a snack package of Grandma's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies has
200 calories, nine grams of fat, and twenty-eight grams of carbohydrates per
serving, but if you read the label carefully, you'll find that a serving is
only one of the two cookies in the package. More than likely you'll eat both
cookies, so you'll consume twice as many calories, grams of fat, and grams of
Sam, a forty-six-year-old engineer
who had lost twenty pounds, learned that the price of continuing weight loss
was eternal vigilance. Having avoided desserts for most of the week, he decided
to stop at a convenience market after dinner to indulge his love of ice cream.
He was doing everything right: he had eaten sensibly so he could allow himself
a treat, he had finished dinner so he wasn't hungry, he wasn't using the ice
cream to soothe any emotional turmoil, and he was planning on giving the ice
cream the attention it deserved to get the maximum enjoyment from it. He spent
a few minutes in front of the freezer case examining its contents before
choosing an ice cream sandwich made with two cookies. He did some mental
calculations and decided that he could afford the 295 calories listed on the
label. When he got home he noticed that the serving size was "1/2 sandwich."
The sandwich was perfectly round; there were no notches, dotted lines on the
wrapping, or anything else to suggest that it should be cut in half. Sam
struggled for a minute before deciding that he couldn't afford 590 calories,
cut it in half, and put one half in his freezer before enjoying the other
Check the label on a package of
pasta. The caloric values are for a two-ounce serving yet most recipes call for
at least four ounces and restaurants may serve seven or eight ounces. You have
to read the nutrition labels very carefully.
Third, slow the pace of eating.
One study found that eating slowly was associated with greater weight loss for
women in a weight-control program. When you're eating take smaller bites, put
the knife and fork down frequently, talk more (remember, it's not polite to
talk with your mouth full!), and stop eating for a minute in the middle of the
meal, while there is still food on your plate. Don't distract yourself by
reading or watching TV while you're eating. Pay attention to what you're
eating. Notice the texture and temperature of the food and see if you can
identify any spices that were used. If you focus on your eating, it's likely
that you will be satisfied with smaller quantities of food.
Finally, review your Eating
Records paying particular attention to the "Excess" column. While overeating is
a general tendency that occurs in many situations, see if there are any
particular "Times," "Foods," or "Location/People/Circumstances" associated with
the checks in the "Excess" column. If you find any circumstances that make
overeating more likely, you can plan to substitute low-density (high-fiber,
high-water content) foods when you are in that situation.
Reprinted from Body
Intelligence: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, and Feel Great About Your Body Without
Dieting! By Edward Abramson, Ph.D. Copyright © 2005 Edward
Abramson, Ph.D. Published by McGraw-Hill; July 2005;
Edward Abramson, Ph.D., is an
internationally recognized expert on eating and weight disorders who lectures
to professional and lay audiences around the world. He is a professor of
psychology at California
a former director of the Eating Disorders Center at Chico
Dr. Abramson has appeared on "Hard Copy," "20/20," PBS, "Good Day LA," "Joan
Rivers," and other TV and radio programs, and his work has been written about
in Reader's Digest, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Self, the
New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and other major
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