Underestimating overeating

Have you ever looked at your plate and thought: ‘I have eyes bigger than my tummy’? Well, you’re not alone.

Tasty food can be oh-so-tempting, but it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients in the best portions possible. A healthy balanced diet will provide your body with strength, energy and boost your immune system.

Controlling your portions is a good way to start ensuring you have a healthy lifestyle. But it can be so difficult to work out what a decent portion of meat, veg or carbohydrate should be these days. With lots of conflicting information around to coincide with the latest fad diets, what is often overlooked is the importance of simplicity: simple, fresh and healthy food is better for your body and gives you far more energy to get through the day.

And simplicity can be more than using fresh ingredients. It is simple to manage your portions without having to count every calorie or measure every gram. There are some basic guidelines for healthy eating and keeping your portions to a tummy-loving size:

  • A meal should contain protein, carbohydrate and vegetables, split into roughly equal thirds of the plate. Ideally the protein third should be made up of some lean meat and some dairy such as eggs or a cheese sauce, to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.
  • The perfect protein size of meat or fish is about the same as a deck of cards
  • One portion or serving of vegetables is around the size of a tennis ball
  • Your carbohydrate serving should be about the same size as your fist – and wholegrains are better for you because they help you avoid those nasty sugar-spikes which make you hungry and reaching for the chocolate!

There are simple habits to get into as well, just to make sure you get into the swing of noticing your food – which will make you appreciate it more. You might want to switch the size of your plate to a slightly smaller one – a simple trick that makes it look as if your plate is still just as full even with adjusted portion sizes.

Another habit would be to eat with others – taking the time to talk with your friends and family over a meal will help you slow your eating. It takes a while for the hormone in your stomach (leptin) to tell your brain it’s full, so slowing down will help stop you reaching for more food. Plus it’s a great way to maintain your social life!

And finally, don’t forget the small things: the tastier something is, the more satisfied you’ll be for it.

An oft-forgotten part of cooking great meals are the very smallest – herbs and spices. Experiment with a whole host of spices and herbs and you won’t need to eat lots to feel satisfied because your tongue is doing the tasting it wants, compared to the over-processed salty and sugary foods, which we all so readily reach for, providing no taste and therefore little satisfaction. Wake up your tastebuds and your tongue and tummy will both thank you for it!

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