Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Portion Control

As I was flipping through M's copy of the latest issue of Cooking Light, I came across a short article about Brian Wansink (of "Mindless Eating" fame) and his quest to bring portion awareness to the masses.  Included in the piece are ten useful tips to help us avoid unknowingly stuffing ourselves.  They pretty much encapsulate the entirety of Wansink's book, so I thought I'd summarize them here for those of you who hate having to read anything longer than a blog post:
  • Before eating, divide the plate.  To ensure a properly balanced meal, fill one half of your plate with fruits or vegetables.  Divide the remaining half equally between protein and starch/carbs.
  • Pre-portion tempting treats.  In other words, don't eat out of the bag or box; portion out the amount you're supposed to eat and set it aside, and put away the container before you turn off your brain and start popping stuff in your mouth.
  • Head off the mindless munch.  Have your restaurant server take away the basket of bread before you mindlessly down the contents.  
  • Downsize your dishes.  Dinner plates are enormous compared to the ones used by our parents and grandparents.  Trade them for smaller ones, or you'll end up overloading them with food (and eating all of it) just so your plates don't look so bare.
  • Limit your choices.  We tend to overeat if given more choices.  Implement a no-buffet rule.
  • Use your power for good.  The person in your household who buys and prepares food is a "nutritional gatekeeper" who dictates the healthfulness of family meals and snacks.  If that's you, wield this power responsibly.
  • Avoid a "see-food" diet.  Keep unhealthy snacks out of sight, and you'll be less likely to munch on them.  Remember: Candy dishes are evil.
  • Turn off the television.  There's a direct correlation between time spent in front of the boob tube and amount of food that goes down your throat.  Before you know it, that shitty episode of "CSI: Miami" is over and your bag of Cheetos is empty, leaving you with fluorescent artificial cheese flavoring smeared all over your gaping mouth.  
  • Think before you drink.  Remember to choose zero-calorie beverages like water or tea.  But when you do sip on something with calories (I'm talking juice, not soda), keep in mind that we're horrible at judging volumes and tend to drink more when using short, wide glasses.
  • Serve good-for-you foods family style.  Don't go family style when it comes to less-than-healthy foods -- we tend to pig out when a big-ass platter of deep fried anything is placed in front of us.  But salads and vegetable sides can be an all-you-can-eat affair.
There.  I just saved you the cost of a paperback.