Hey friends! How are you? I am sure you all will be in the best of your health and fitness. Okay! So in the beginning let me discuss little bit about ”the stress around food” that many people have these days. Well, this is not my topic today so please bear with me while I share my thoughts on this. I see these days women have developed a very complicated relationship with food – they have this fear of eating even the healthiest foods because they will put on weight or they wanna look good, they wanna attend this wedding, or wanna fit into their old skinny jeans or wanna achieve that ‘Zero figure’ which only exists in the photos and movies (all the photoshop stuff you know) – all this agony and misery what for? To show the world how beautiful your body is? For a selfie or to take group photos and post them on social media so you can get good compliments and many likes. (I know it’s not the case with everybody but I am sure many will fall under this category) Wow! Seriously! Is it worth it? Do we really need to do this? I mean really? Losing weight and looking good should be a permanent lifestyle change to eat healthier. It should be with a purpose of achieving good health or remaining healthy or in order to improve our productivity not for some specific event or to impress somebody.
This food and stress relationship is very prevalent in our society – I don’t understand why there is so much guilt and anxiety around food when food is there to nourish our body so that we can feel satisfied, energised and be productive. All this makes me really sad and compels me to write about how we can eat mindfully and still loose weight. If you ask me then I would say being a Nutritionist my theory around food is very clear. I am a foodie, I love food, I don’t believe in diets and I don’t believe in depriving myself from food which is there for us to eat and enjoy. I believe we are meant to have a good relationship with food not the other way around. I really believe in eating small amounts of any food really. It has to be healthy food on most of the days but I have my cheat days as well and they are guilt free. Yes!!! Here comes the art of mindful eating and how we can enjoy all kinds of food by controlling our portion sizes. If we control the portion sizes of our meals and be consistent in our exercise regimen (even if its 15-20 minutes a day) then believe you me we can eat everything and still loose weight.
You can eat whatever you want to eat but don’t overdo it. Moderation is the key! As we all know eating excessively causes harm to our systems and it also makes the heart heedless. (Muslim readers you know what I am talking about here). It has been said that: “Stomach is the home of ill health” and many ailments are related to uncontrolled eating habits such as diabetes, vascular diseases and heart disease. Our religion (Islam) teaches us to eat moderately. I am sure you all have heard of this Hadith (Hadith – means the actions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, reported by his companions and collected by scholars who came after them in books) a ton of times which is:
“No human being has ever filled a container worse than his own stomach. The son of Adam needs ‘no more than a few morsels of food to keep his back straight’. If you must fill it, then one third for food, one third for drink and one third for air”.
This is the teaching of our beloved Prophet PBUH. He only ate enough food so that he didn’t feel weak. So he ate enough food to keep his back straight. We should try to follow his footsteps and never eat more than our need. We should try to listen to our body, our body will tell us how much is our need. Every body has different requirements when it comes to portion control and a best way to judge how much you need is right infront of your hand. Yes a ”serving size is in your hand” ! Isn’t it cool? Take a look at your hand and use this as a measurement for portion control. This is an awesome graphic for people who say that they struggle with portion sizes. I think this can be a helpful tool. It is not, of course, a hard-and-fast rule to live by. Having said that, I think it can be of some use, therefore it’s worth explaining …
Your palm: is gonna be equal to 3 ounces. This is the ideal portion you’ll need when it comes to fish, chicken and meat.
Thumb tip: This is equal to about 1 teaspoon. You wanna use this portion size for things like peanut butter, mayonnaise and oils etc
Your Thumb: This is about a tablespoon. You wanna use this for things like cheese, sour cream etc.
A handful: is equal to 1 to 2 ounce of snack food. This portion is good for snacks like nuts, dried fruits.
A fist or a cupped hand: This is equal to 1 cup. It should be used for measuring out things like cereal, rice, pasta.
1 tennis ball is equal to 1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables, although you could definitely do more on the veggies and fruit side.
The Plate Method: You can also use ‘The Plate Method’ for your main meals. In this method, you fill 1/2 of the plate with 2 servings of non-starchy vegetables, fill 1/4 of the plate with lean meat (3 ounces cooked) or other high-protein food, fill 1/4 of the plate with a starchy vegetable or whole grain serving (amount varies depending on food selected). This figure below is the best example of a healthy Plate Method.
Note: Pork is forbidden for Muslims of course!
Lastly, I’m going to share some very useful tips for staying on track with portion control that will lead to weight loss. Here are the tips you need to know:
- Be mindful when you eat, chew slowly and take smaller bites so you feel fuller more quickly.
- Use a smaller plate when dishing your food. This way you won’t be able to put too much on the plate therefore reducing your portion size and of course your waistline. 😉
- Eating smaller more frequent meals will increase your metabolism throughout the day, help your body more energised and in turn, burn more calories.
- Include leafy greens, colourful vegetables, low GI (Glycemic Index)/complex carbohydrates and lean protein at every main meal.
- Fill up on meals that are nutrient dense such as steamed vegetables, home made salads and soups.
- Follow the plate method as explained above. What you do is you start eating veggie side of your plate first, this fills your stomach because of the high fibre content in veggies, you already feel full therefore you eat less of the other stuff in your plate.
- Drink plenty of water and natural herbal teas to keep you satisfied and to help curb hunger throughout the day.
- Drink a glass of water 15 minutes before your meals.
- Get plenty of sleep. Make sure you get at least 6 to 7 hours good quality sleep to curb hunger and to reduce cravings for simple sugars.
- Keep a food diary. This will help keep your eating on track and allow you to monitor exactly what is going into your mouth therefore keep you accountable of your daily food intake.
Just remember this, staying consistent is the key to portion control and weight loss. One bad meal or over indulgence won’t set you off track. You are allowed to have a cheat day once a week. Yaaayyyy! 😉 But be consistent with your portion control, it takes approximately 30 days to make or break a habit. Don’t give up, be persistent and you will see results that will last a lifetime, In’sha’Allah (If God wills)!