How Much is Too Much Food?

February 6, 2013 BY: LISA

I was having a conversation today about how to lose weight when you already eat mostly healthy foods. This man’s weight was decreasing slowly as he had increased his exercise to a daily walk but he wanted to speed up the weight loss process.

The answer? Eat less. Decrease your portion size. It’s often easier said than done because most people will eat everything on their plate no matter how full they are.

I recall writing about the French paradox and how Brian Wansink believes the French can eat higher fat foods and not have weight issues because they know when to stop eating…when they are no longer hungry, not when their plate is empty.

There are levels of hunger and different levels within each level and we can manage each phase to assist weight loss:

·        Hungry

·         Satisfied

·         Stuffed full

Hungry: I believe hunger is your friend. If you are not feeling hungry for meals then your metabolism has been affected by you skipping meals. Hunger before meals is a great guide as to whether you have eaten too much the meal or snack before. If you are hungry for the meal you have eaten appropriately, if you are starving for the meal you haven’t eaten enough previously and run the risk of over eating and if you are not hungry for the meal you have eaten too much between the meals.

Action: Start taking note of your hunger levels before meals. If you notice that you are starving have a snack or a larger snack between the meals. If you are not hungry then eat less between meals. If you are not feeling hungry at all ensure that you are eating three meals per day and try starting some exercise.

Satisfied: This is where we have a number of levels and where most people can make some inroads into decreasing their portion size without suffering from hunger pains. There are definitely different levels of satiety (feeling satisfied that you are no longer hungry). In my discussion today I spoke about the fact that there is quite a broad range in portion size where you can still feel satisfied but one extreme is closer to hungry and the other is closer to stuffed full- this leaves quite a large variation in quantity if you choose to experiment.

Action: Start decreasing the amount on your plate and noting your satisfaction after the meal. If you are feeling hungry after 20minutes you have decreased too much and this may not be sustainable but if you are feeling fine then decrease a little more and test the boundaries of your satisfaction levels.

Stuffed full– Often people have told me that this is the feeling they desire after eating, it makes them feel that they have eaten enough. Anything less, to them, means they are still hungry. This is the danger that you run making your kids eat everything on their plate- you can override their natural hunger and fullness signals. If you recognise yourself in this picture, fear not, if you want to change you can. Start by decreasing the amount you eat and be curious as to your hunger or satiety levels rather than certain that you will be hungry.

Action: Instead of thinking you can’t change think about how you want to change. A very wise client said to me the other day. “This is something I am doing for myself rather than to myself.” There is a distinct difference and understanding this can make change a lot easier.

Good Luck!

Lisa APD

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