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 Post subject: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:04 pm 
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Has anyone had luck with reconfiguring your relationship to portion sizes of food? I would like to eat a bit less, but get stressed and hungry when I reduce portion sizes. Historically, for me, no matter how much I exercise, I best lose weight when I eat less. I don't want to lose a lot--just between five and ten pounds, and I know eating less will help. But I get so frustrated with portion sizes. I made a dish from AFR and ate the four servings for two meals, and it didn't seem like too much. Any advice or tricks that have worked?

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:09 pm 
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This may sound dumb, but smaller plates might work. I always just fill up whatever plate/bowl i'm using so using smaller plates makes me take less food. This has also helped me drink less sweetened beverages by pouring my drink into a smaller cup.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:19 pm 
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Smaller plates and eat at a slower pace


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:23 pm 
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I managed to lose a good bit of weight by padding meals out with lots of extra veg and reducing quick release carbs, like swapping white potatoes for sweet potatoes etc.


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:58 pm 
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I find that using small plates and putting everything (well, almost everything) on a huge bed of leafy greens helps me take less to begin with, and then by the time I've eaten it I'm generally sufficiently full. (Unless, of course, I've made a conscious decision to strap on the ol' feedbag, which is another story entirely!)

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:32 pm 
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Smaller plates and harder to chew food (chewy greens are great). The portion sizes in AFR are quite small (as in most cookbooks), but that doesn't mean they're not reasonable portions. What helps me also is serving myself a reasonable portion (on a salad size plate, not a dinner size plate), then putting the rest of the food away immediately so I'm not tempted to go back for more.

Your "hunger" is often more about food availability and its entertainment value than anything else. The other thing, which might be counter-intuitive, is choosing blander foods and less variety within each meal (do a one pot dish rather than three or four separate dishes, and don't put the serving dishes in front of you while you eat). You eat more of things that are more flavorful and you eat more when you have more food options in front of you (so says science). The common myth that flavorful food is more satisfying and you therefore eat less of it does not appear to actually be true for most people. Blandness and boringness is king when it comes to weight loss. Food should not be used primarily for entertainment purposes and you have to separate when you're eating for hunger enjoyably from when you're eating for the fun of it.

Lastly, I also have a lot of anxiety about eating less, as though I'm going to starve or something, and the best advice I ever got was to do an experiment where I purposefully did not eat and be really conscious of the experience. This was devised by a cognitive behavioral therapist. So you can do either just a meal or a full day, but monitor your hunger throughout the experience (on a scale of unpleasantness of experience 1 to 10) and write it down. The point of this is that you build an understanding that hunger won't actually kill you and usually it's not even that unpleasant for very long, so that you won't panic if you find yourself slightly hungry during the day or after a reasonably-sized meal.


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:43 pm 
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Please be wary of skipping meals. For some, it may be just an annoyance, but for others they vomit, pass out, etc (this is what happens to me if I don't eat for a while). I get crazy lightheaded and dizzy, and after enough time (half a day), I tend to puke.

To answer your initial question, if you want smaller portion sizes, eat slow. I pause and read while I'm eating a lot, and I realize the more I focus on something else, causing the eating to be a conscious decision, the less I stuff my face with.
And if you think you want seconds, wait 20 minutes. Maybe your stomach hasn't caught up!

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:51 pm 
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Smaller plates is good, but smaller hands is even better. Then the food looks really huge in your comically undersized hands!

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:13 pm 
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Eat the reduced size portion and don't have seconds. Tell yourself you can have something more to eat in a couple of hours if still hungry. When hungry again, just eat the minimum to stave off hunger, maybe only a few bites, again telling yourself you can eat again later if you really want to. If the thing you are eating is fantastic, just remind yourself how much you will enjoy it later when you aren't even stuffed. Eventually smaller meals will seem normal to you, and you'll get fuller more easily, and you may experience a faster metabolism. This happened to me when I worked at a place where there weren't a lot of good lunch options. I ate much smaller lunches because they were average and overpriced. This usually required me to have a snack in the afternoon. Prior to this I used to overeat commonly, and this included things that weren't even delicious.


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:42 pm 
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missdelaney wrote:
Please be wary of skipping meals. For some, it may be just an annoyance, but for others they vomit, pass out, etc (this is what happens to me if I don't eat for a while). I get crazy lightheaded and dizzy, and after enough time (half a day), I tend to puke.


Obviously, do what makes the most sense for the body you know you have, but those reactions to hunger are really very rare. Fasting (on purpose or by default) has been a normal part of human life since the beginning of human life and the vast majority of people can skip a meal or a few meals for the sake of health needs (before surgeries and blood tests), for alternative health practices, for spiritual purposes, or for psychological experiments, without becoming ill in any way. Obviously don't fast if you have a good medical reason not to (like diabetes). I have confirmed hypoglycemia, but it's not considered a contraindication to fasting and I can operate at a high level after fasting for 20+ hours anyway (which I do a few times a year for religious reasons and I have to be at the top of my game at the 24 hour mark). Very few people actually become ill when they fast, most of us just get grumpy :)

The point of the experiment I talked about above is to confirm to oneself that hunger will make you grumpy and a little uncomfortable, but won't constitute an acute emergency (again, unless you have a severe medical issue - but that is not the norm). That way you can deal with the vagaries of every day hunger with the memory that you are capable of surviving it and that it's not an emergency that has to be solved with a giant portion of something you didn't intend to eat.


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:04 pm 
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These are great suggestions, thank you. I especially appreciate the smaller plates and the taking time while eating--the latter, I'm afraid, is likely the biggest problem for me. I usually eat while working, for all meals, and at the computer or with a pile of books or other work, so I don't really pay much attention. I like the idea of slowing down, putting down the work, and paying attention. This is a great way to start being more mindful at meals.

Ariann, thanks but the purposeful fasting thing doesn't work for me. Perhaps for some others, though it sounds like it could be very dangerous for people with ED and other histories or self or otherwise inflicted food deprivation. I am well aware that hunger makes me cranky, so don't plan to test this one.

Do other people struggle with portion sizes? I imagine I'm not alone on this site as someone who really likes food---the preparation, the consuming of it, plating and presentation, and everything.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:49 pm 
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I struggle with portion sizes too, and I do tend to eat two serves of a lot of the AFR recipes. But I count calories and I find that the AFR recipes are still pretty low even if you do eat two portions- I'm planning on making the hoisin-mustard tofu tonight, and my partner and I will eat the full recipe between us. It fits into my calorie plan, so it doesn't bother me.

The plate thing really does make a difference, too. I have a couple of small bowls that I'll often eat from and they've helped me to add less rice when I make a stir fry or something (loading my bowl up with grains was always my problem!). And to echo others, eating slow- if I make something pretty indulgent like mac and cheese, I'll eat it slowly and take small forkfuls so that I'm enjoying it a bit more and I also don't finish eating way before Boyfriend does. If we finish eating at the same time, I don't think about having eaten less than he did. I'll also add spinach to the side of some meals- like if we have tofu scramble for dinner and Boyfriend is eating his with toast, I'll put a heap of baby spinach on my plate so I have a side too, and I don't feel like I'm missing out. I really love spinach, though.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:11 pm 
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I have a hard time with this too and I also get the anxiety about starving/being hungry. Honestly, the only thing I have found that has made me eat less and not feel like I need more is to count calories. I use an app on my phone (well, I'm not using it right now and am eating like crazy) and that way I can look at what I've eaten and know that I've had enough or should still eat more. It's kind of a pain in the asparagus and probably wouldn't work for everyone, but I find it works well for me.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:25 pm 
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ilovemountains, that works for me, too - mostly I think because it takes away the choice component.


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:26 pm 
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One thing that might be helpful is to evaluate if you truly are hungry. This might tie in to what Ariann was suggesting, but the idea isn't to starve yourself, but to get used to feeling hungry.

That was one of the amazing things after my gastric bypass surgery--one of the many metabolic and other body changes was being able to feel hungry for the first time. That cut down on a lot of unneccessarily eating. Now I really love that slightly rumbly tummy hungry feeling and I enjoy my meals more when I do wait for being hungry. Again, not skipping meals or starving. More like spacing meals and snacks out more appropriately. The flip side is that if you eat before you get too hungry, you are probably less likely to overheat or eat junk

Again, this isn't about starving yourself, just learning to read the proper cues from your body (maybe you don't need the snack at 3:30 when you are eating at 5). Depending on your body, this could be easier said than done since cravings and the desire to eat can mimic hunger. Eating meals slowly also gives your body a chance to send the "thanks, I've had enough now" message.

Ditto to the smaller plates! I'm pretty good with portion sizes overall these days since the gastric bypass sort of ensures that, but when I try to eat meals with "real" plates like at Thanksgiving, I run into trouble because I can't gauge properly.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:49 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
One thing that might be helpful is to evaluate if you truly are hungry. This might tie in to what Ariann was suggesting, but the idea isn't to starve yourself, but to get used to feeling hungry.


Yes, of course, the goal isn't to starve, it's just to allow yourself to feel hungry and get over the panic and recognize what it feels like (and that it's not an immediate emergency - if you're hungry at 4pm and you're eating at 5, you can wait). Even though I have fasted purposefully dozens of times and skipped meals non-purposefully probably hundreds of times and obviously already knew it would cause crankiness, I still found it a useful exercise to induce hunger for no other purpose than noticing it, documenting it, and cementing it as a memory that I could return to - that hunger is not an emergency, it won't kill me to just eat what I planned on eating even if I'm hungry enough to eat three times as much, it won't kill me to not have an extra unplanned snack, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:29 am 
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You might like some merch from one of the fake bands I made up years ago: Portion Control.

Dumbest. Post. Ever.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:18 am 
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I count calories, which works for me because the numbers don't lie. If I feel hungry and I can see that I've already maxed out my daily calories, I am far less likely to keep eating. I'm not even trying to lose weight right now; this is just the most effective way for me to maintain. myfitnesspal is great for this - the app is excellent and simple to use.

I also portion out everything I cook immediately, so there's no going back for seconds. I'm so anal about it that I'll calculate calories for the whole meal (generally while it's cooking, after I've measured/weighed everything) and figure out the number of servings based on how many calories I have to "spend."


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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:11 am 
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Yeah, I use myfitnesspal too. It's been great for me, but I respond pretty well to the structure of the numbers. To me, it simplifies the whole thing- want to lose or maintain weight? Eat this many things, it's that simple! I also plan out my meals at the beginning of the day so that I don't snack too much and mess up my dinner plans. I've been using it for nearly a year now (for weight loss and maintaining) and it's helped to make thinking about portion sizes into a (positive) habit.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 5:05 am 
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For me, reducing portion sizes doesn't work at all. I get hungry again faster and am more likely to eat something that will make me feel like crepe. If the food is bland I have to remind myself to eat enough so that doesn't happen. Eating healthier for me is all about eating the right thing, filling up on veg instead of more calorie-dense foods. Good luck with finding a way of eating that works and helps you reach your goals!

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:48 am 
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Ariann wrote:

Your "hunger" is often more about food availability and its entertainment value than anything else. The other thing, which might be counter-intuitive, is choosing blander foods and less variety within each meal (do a one pot dish rather than three or four separate dishes, and don't put the serving dishes in front of you while you eat). You eat more of things that are more flavorful and you eat more when you have more food options in front of you (so says science). The common myth that flavorful food is more satisfying and you therefore eat less of it does not appear to actually be true for most people. Blandness and boringness is king when it comes to weight loss. Food should not be used primarily for entertainment purposes and you have to separate when you're eating for hunger enjoyably from when you're eating for the fun of it.


That's so true! I actually find that when i cook a lot from recipes that are really tasty, I eat a lot more. If I just make up meals out of my head, like rice, beans, some veggies, and flavor them with a few spices or salsa, it's still tastes fine, but not in a "delicious-I-must-have-more" kind of way. So I do try to balance how many "special" recipes I cook with blander, more basic type meals for that reason.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:13 pm 
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New plan: put giant pile of kale under everything I eat. Fill up bowl with kale, not rice.

Great tips, everyone!

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:44 pm 
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molasses jane wrote:
New plan: put giant pile of kale under everything I eat. Fill up bowl with kale, not rice.

this was what i did starting about 4 months ago (with chard, not kale). Now rice is just not really appetizing to me. I had some today for the first time in ages and it was like "oh, rice, interesting" but not like "must eat all rice in pot", which is how i used to be.

sadly, i didn't stop drinking when i implemented this change, so i didn't lose anything yet. work in progress......

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:06 pm 
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I think a large problem with rationing food is that it's hard not to think/feel you're still hungry (even if you're physically full) because you're spending much of your mental energy reminding yourself not to eat more. I mean, if it's constantly on your mind, it's pretty easy to feel deprived.

That said, I do (loosely) track calories on a weekly basis. It helps that I already have the time to plan weekly menus and do the grocery shopping once a week (awesome for the budget too!). I don't know if you have the time for that, but I find myself a lot less stressed if I can just buy the food I need, cook the meals I planned, and not worry about portions/calories at every single meal. It's not precise, and it means losing weight more slowly, but it also means I'm happier.

There are low-calorie foods that allow for larger quantities of eating. Finding these foods has been the best thing for me. Look up caloric info for homemade seitan (it's pretty low; and the VWAV recipe is easy). Kale chips and popcorn are great if you just want something to chew on while your working/thinking/typing/studying. Navy beans are magic--this is something I never would have learned if my partner weren't allergic to chickpeas. Navy bean hummus will taste just like white bean but it has a lot more protein than both, so you'll feel full for a lot longer. Bonus potassium in seitan and navy beans, too. Actually, I have a whole slew of cheap recipes that can be eaten in larger quantities. I'm too lazy to post in the Kitchen, but you can PM me and I'll send you recipes.

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 Post subject: Re: portion sizes
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:27 pm 
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You know what, fork any talk of calories. I know I used the word above, but I redact.

If you're going to count/quantify anything, look at the nutrients you're getting. That's what I primarily use myfitnesspal for--to see that I'm getting enough potassium and calcium because I have a hard time with both. If I plan around those two things, I generally fill my week with foods that do good things for my body and put me in a good mood. And I just adamantly decided not to give a flying fig about anything else.

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