Weighty Matters

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Portion Perspective

on July 24, 2014

Pretty much every day, I throw a small apple into my lunch bag to eat as an afternoon snack. Apples are good for me and they’re easy to eat. Not much preparation needed to pick up an apple and bite into it.

Today I was so busy at work that I ended up eating lunch later than usual. I did a protein shake for lunch and the ones I’m drinking now are particularly filling. So, when the afternoon snack time came around, I wasn’t hungry. I skipped and ate again at dinner. I was hungrier a couple of hours after the meal and reached for the apple I hadn’t eaten earlier.

Apple slices with a dollop of natural peanut butter make for a favorite treat. For this, I opted to cut the apple into slices. I put everything on a small plate and brought it to the table. Before I started to eat, I looked at the snack and thought, “Wow. That’s a lot of food.” It puzzled me that an apple that was definitely small when intact and round seemed so much bigger when sliced. I wondered if it was all because I’d put it on a smaller than normal plate — one about the size of a saucer. Maybe a group of slices should look like more than a whole apple with all of its parts united. Anyway, it got me thinking.

It’s hard for me to judge. I have horrible portion perspective. Each day I still work on retraining my eyes and stomach. The portions of food I eat are, by physical limitation and mental choice, far smaller than they used to be. I know this, but it still takes practice to teach myself how much of a serving is enough. Usually, I end up dishing out more than I want, need or can eat. It’s out of habit and I haven’t completely reshaped my eyeballing system of measurement. Yes, yes, I could solve it all if I weighed and measured but I’ve never been one who developed using those tools into a sustainable new habit. I keep trying. I’m just not there yet. I do my best to remain mindful about my eating so that even if I start out with too much, I don’t eat more than I need. I don’t want to cram so much food into my stomach that I’m uncomfortable or feel sick. Most importantly, I want to accustom myself to normalizing smaller portions.

I read a magazine article today with actress Allison Sweeney. She’s the host for Biggest Loser and has battled weight issues in the past. She said something eminently sensible in the article — that she always feeds her kids small portions, knowing that if they are still hungry they will ask for more. I need to be that sensible. Perhaps I should start taking a lot less than I think I need. Really drastically reduce the portion I initially serve myself on my plate.

Then, if eating mindfully, I will be able to feel whether I’ve had too little or had enough to satisfy my needs. Portion perspective is a learn-able skill, isn’t it?

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