The Truth about Portion Sizes
I may get some blow-back for my opinions about this topic, but so be it. Hear me out.
I know you’re desperate to get it “right.” You want to know exactly the amount of any said food you can and are allowed to eat during any given meal or snack and certain health experts are happy to oblige.
In fact there is a whole science around what consists of a portion of a certain food…. and visuals too! A deck of cards is the size of a portion of meat. Make a fist to determine roughly a cup of food, etc., etc.
Because we so crave feeling validated that we’re “on the right track”, we adhere to and even cling to these arbitrary portion sizes as gospel.
At least that was true for me.
I remember one day at Trader Joe’s (when I portion-obsessed), I found a Trader Joe’s version of mac and cheese. Score! It only had 350 calories in the whole box! Or so I thought. When I got home, I devoured the savory treat (after all, chronic dieters DO NOT allow themselves to have mac and cheese! It’s blasphemy). It wasn’t until I was a little suspicious at just how delicious and ample it was that I started to worry and looked at the back of the box again.
Much to my chagrin, I saw that there were actually TWO portions in the box! So, that little treat turned out to be 700 calories - way more than I would ever typically allot for myself for a meal and it sent me into a tailspin.
Tailspin for chronic dieters and those who weight cycle = pity and rage binging.
Now that I’m an intuitive eater, I worry less about exact portions and other people’s opinion about what a portion is in the first place. I focus more on deepening my mind/body connection and slow-eating, so I have time to relax before I eat, and can intuitively know exactly how much is enough for me.
How can anyone else know what is enough for any one person’s appetite at any given time?
I remember being a teen feeling absolutely crestfallen at the portion sizes that I was allowed to have on my diet, compared to everyone else - it felt condescending. It felt depressing and most definitely felt restrictive. It felt as if I shouldn’t ever trust myself because I’d always get it wrong and overeat (after all, my appetite was wrong and broken and out of whack, right?)
Turns out….no, that’s wrong.
Once I stopped forcing myself to adhere to random portion sizes and started actually trusting and working WITH my appetite, everything changed.
I stopped overeating and started eating naturally, when I knew my body was full. I feared less about getting it “right” and spent more time listening and communicating with my body for those answers. Most importantly, it ended the deprivation loop. I mistakenly felt my body needed more, BECAUSE I was given a limit. This was born out of years of doing diet programs that cared less about my emotional well-being and sustainability and focused more on fulfilling the faulty promise that thinner is better.
People ask me all the time. “Ok, but I just need to get better at portion control. How do I get better at that?”
My answer? Why do you think you need to get better at that? Where does that belief come from? What evidence do you have that tells a different story?
Think about these questions:
Have you ever eaten less than a suggested portion, naturally?
What do you think will happen if you end up eating more than the suggested amount?
Are you eating food mindfully, slowly and with gratitude and abundance or are you in a fear or scarcity mindset?
Who would you be if you didn’t have to worry about measuring and weighing your food anymore?
Before, you go all Jerry Springer on me and start throwing chairs, let me just end with this.
Obviously, if you have a medical condition or have dietary restrictions due to allergies or medical conditions, listen to your doctor! There may be reasons why portioning out certain foods is necessary.
But, I believe that personal portions are just that…..personal. That might mean that today you feel like you need a card deck portion of meat and other days feel hungry enough for more than that.
When you adhere too strictly to perceived perfect portions you risk:
Your body ceasing to communicate hunger and satiety cues accurately
Creating anxiety, worry and dread during the eating experience
Feeling guilty or ashamed for eating even a bite more
Becoming obsessed with weighing and measuring and counting out correct portions.
Wouldn’t it be a game-changer if you could eat exactly the right amount for your body given the circumstances of the day on a physical, emotional, environmental and psychological level? Wouldn’t it be an utter relief to do this completely naturally?
You can. The best way to get started is to learn more about mindful and intuitive eating. And guess what? I have just the thing for you to explore more about it.
It’s my 7-day mindful eating mini-course. In this course you’ll learn the what, why AND how of mindful eating and how to utilize simple strategies that create huge impact on your relationship with food and a deeper connection to your body.