We are told to portion better, however what does this mean?
What is Portion Distortion?
Portion distortion is growing portion sizes that people believe are normal. Ironically, our society tells us to eat smaller portions, but it continues to serve us two to four portions on one plate when we go out to eat at restaurants.
This is a major problem when it is blended with the beliefs instilled in us as children. Our parents, and their parents, grew up in a time where food was scarce.
If you’re like me, our parents told us as kids, “Eat everything on your plate because children are starving in Africa.” We knew our bodies were full, or that the food on the plate didn’t agree with our digestive system, but we kept eating because our parents told us to.
Now, you may be wondering… how can I prevent this?! The answer to this question lies in your awareness.
Subconscious vs Conscious Brain: It’s All About Awareness
Our brain is 90 percent subconscious and 10 percent conscious. A fitting example to use is breathing. We don’t have to think about breathing because it happens automatically, but, if we stop and think about breathing with our conscious minds, we can change the way we breathe.
We can easily tie this example of how we control our breathing to how we diet. It’s all about awareness! If we can understand how to work with both our subconscious and conscious brains, we can stop slipping or falling back into emotional eating habits.
Bringing our own awareness to our emotional eating habits can be exceedingly difficult. Thankfully, registered dietician, Karie Cassell, has authored a best-selling book called, “The Domino Diet,” which teaches us to slow down, breathe, and identify our emotional eating habits. We can then redirect our focus and awareness back into our parasympathetic systems and our conscious minds.
Assess the Four Main Areas of Your Life
It really isn’t all about willpower and yet so many of us beat ourselves up, thinking we have no willpower. What we need to do instead is address the emotional piece behind our relationships with sugar and portion sizes.
Assess the four fundamental areas in your life:
In her book, Karie uses the four wheels on your vehicle as an analogy. You don’t just check the balance on one, you check all four of them. If you overinflate one or underinflate one, your vehicle will drive out of balance.
All four areas in your life help you overcome emotional eating, over or under portioning, and your cravings around sugar. When we combine what we know from science and the emotional aspect of healing and supporting what our brain desires, we can make better choices around our food and overall nourishment, which doesn’t just come from food. We can stop to ask ourselves as we reach for food “Am I truly physically hungry in this moment, or am I in need of some other form of nourishment?” Generally, we aren’t really hungry, and need something else – a hug, a walk, a chat with a friend, hydration, a lovely warm bath…
Customized Solutions to Portion Distortion
When we tell ourselves, “I’m going to eat less sugar,” we instantly put a fear factor in our subconscious minds. We then feel guilty about the occasional treat we give to ourselves that our body craves. Let’s stop doing this to ourselves!
When we talk about portions, we aren’t saying cut all sugars from your diet. What we are saying is to follow the 80/20 rule.
What is the 80/20 rule?
Simply put, 80 percent of the food you eat should be placed under the healthy meal category. The other 20 percent of the food you consume can be less restrictive, or not as healthy.
Here are solutions that can help you fight portion distortion today:
- Stop watching tv while eating (especially stressful channels, like the news)
- Pausing to listen to inner intuition (the little voice in our heads)
- Slow down and focus on when and what is being eaten
- Be more specific when customizing diets
- Set a specific time for when you eat that one square of chocolate AND place the chocolate on the counter (to prevent rummaging through the kitchen later)
Below are some alternatives for eating healthier foods and sugars (especially around Halloween!):
- Swap a piece of candy with some fruit
- Buy popcorn instead of chips
- Choose good quality dark chocolate, over a caramel-filled substandard quality chocolate
- Eat more trail mix for a better balance
- Choose frozen grapes or frozen bananas
Portion distortion is a huge problem, but it’s not a problem we can’t fix. We hope you can take away several new and useful tips for curbing emotional eating and apply them to your healthier eating habits today. We can do this together!
For more tips including a delicious and healthy Halloween treat for kids check out my “Don’t Wait For Your Wake Up Call!” podcast episode 37 here: “Sugar Portion / Distortion + Trick or Treating tips!” You can also watch the episode on YouTube. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel here