Topic: Portion control
I got up this morning expecting great things. I've been good all week, eating right, watching my sodium intake, keeping active. I thought for sure I'd lost SOMEthing. Instead, the scale read 137.2. Hmm. I gained .2 pounds? That's strange, especially since my clothes are fitting loose. Then it occurred to me: I've been walking more. Each day I park my car several blocks away from my son's school and I walk over to pick him up. On our way back I carry his very heavy backpack. This burns calories, but also strengthens my muscles. So of course, when I get on the scale, it doesn't tell me, "This much weight is what you lost in fat and this is how much you gained in muscle." I made the mistake of not measuring myself to see how many inches I've lost (because I don't have a tape measure), but I know I've lost inches when my waistbands aren't cutting off my circulation. Pants that were uncomfortably tight are now fitting properly, and skirts that fit fine are now getting to be too big. So, even though the scale appears to be stating otherwise, I feel it's been a successful week healthwise, and that's what matters.
My husband J has also been trying to eat better and lose weight, though for different health reasons. He started having issues with high blood pressure due to the fact that he was seriously overweight. His cholesterol and triglyceride levels were high. Both his parents and one of his brothers is diabetic, and his doctor was concerned. J realized he had to take matters under control if he was to correct the blood pressure problem and steer away from diabetes, so he began exercising and changing his diet. He has made excellent progress: he's gone from 201 lbs. to 182, and his blood pressure is under control, praise the Lord. It was a slow process, though, and one of the hardest lessons he had to learn was portion control.
My hubby was convinced his weight gain came from eating white bread and rice. He decided to eliminate these from his diet altogether, and began eating Special K cereal (which is kind of funny, since the first ingredient in Special K is rice). Since it's made from whole wheat and has lots of vitamins, I thought it was a good start. He would have Special K for breakfast and dinner, hoping to begin losing weight right away. Instead, weight loss was sluggish at best, and he couldn't figure out what he was doing wrong. He ran on the treadmill twice a day and wasn't eating processed grains; shouldn't the weight be coming off faster? Then I watched him have his cereal one morning. He filled up his cereal bowl to the brim and added 1% milk. When he was done, he served himself another bowl, then another. I was shocked at how much he was eating at one sitting. J didn't think anything of it; he figured it was fat free healthy food so it didn't make a difference how much he ate. I took the box and read the nutritional facts to him: a serving size of 1 cup has 110 calories, not including the milk. "Not only did you serve yourself more than a cup," I told him, "but you served yourself 3 times. Therefore, you have had over 330 calories of cereal, with about another 300 calories in the milk. In just this one meal, you've had over 600 calories, and the day is just getting started." It was quite a wake up call. He had been eating foods that were good for him but in the wrong proportions. Once he adjusted his serving sizes, the pounds began melting away.
Americans have a "super-size" frame of mind. More is better. Gotta get my money's worth. Small fries and a small Coke don't cut it - it's gotta be the extra large of both, and 2 beef patties, if you please. I worked with some Europeans who were shocked at the amount of food served in restaurants. A serving size bowl of pasta at one of our local restaurants is the equivalent of what a family of four would eat in their countries. And let's not even talk about how much fat, calories and sodium are in these dishes! No wonder Americans are so overweight! In one sitting we eat a day's worth of everything, leave the table feeling like a balloon ready to pop, then plant ourselves in front of the TV to "rest" it off. And what do we watch on said television? Shows like "Biggest Loser." We laugh at the morbidly obese as we turn into one ourselves.
As I began looking at what I was eating, I also looked at the amounts I would eat. I had a tendency of eating a good, proportionate serving of food, then go back for seconds. That meant that I would have a meal of 500 calories - twice. I was eating too much food. It's as simple as that.
To keep myself on track, I now measure out my food and have only one serving. It was difficult at first. If it was a meal I particularly liked, I would want to have more. To help curb the craving, I'd have a large glass of water after eating. This would fill up my stomach while washing away the taste of the food from my palate. It's taken some time, but I can more easily control the amount of food I eat now and stay away from overeating.
Lesson to be learned here: it's not enough to eat the right foods; it's also necessary to eat the right amounts of the right foods. Not only will the weight come off easier, your digestive system will thank you for not overloading it. Scripture always puts it best: "And put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite." (Proverbs 23:2).