Determining the right amount to eat can often cause a bit of a headache. We’ve spent years being dictated to about counting this, weighing that, calories in being equal to calories out and in the process no longer having an eye for how much food will actually make us feel satisfied – all this whilst being offered and served up increasingly large portions. Do we stand a chance?!
Telling someone to “eat until they’re satisfied” or “have a medium sized portion” is not, I’m sure you’ll agree, overly helpful. So how can you get a better hold on whether or not you’re eating enough / too much?
Some initial ground rules:
- Forget about calories – unless you’re entering a body building comp any time soon. Both me and Arnie will assure you it gets really important then (apparently…)
- Be satisfied, not full – that is eating to a point where you think “excellent, I can carry on with my [whatever it is you were doing] without feeling like I’m going to pass out” as opposed to “Holy smoke, I gotta unbutton these trousers and sit in front of the TV for two hours”
- The better quality food you eat, the more it will satisfy you – there will be a much bigger post on food quality coming up but in the meantime, here’s how you know (very simply) if something’s good or bad: single ingredient foods are the best of the lot (eg. egg, tomato, chicken, broccoli); if it’s got a label, read it – anything you don’t recognise on that list will generally make this a bad food; sugar – the enemy. End of; cartoon on the box equals even more sugar. Avoid
- Throw out the Shrek-sized dinner plate – that big green guy’s not coming for supper any time soon (sorry, I know we all love him) and you definitely don’t need to eat off a plate that size
- Never, ever eat on the run – sit down to enjoy and savour every single thing that goes in your mouth. Eating whilst doing something else, namely moving, totally confuses our poor little brains that don’t get chance to register we’ve actually eaten something to fuel us on our way
That makes it a bit easier, right?
You want even easier? Try this:
EAT BREAKFAST LIKE A KING
LUNCH LIKE A PRINCE
DINNER LIKE A PAUPER
Breakfast like a King – this should be your biggest meal of the day. It’s the breaking of a sleep-induced fast after all. Remember the importance of protein and keeping your blood sugar nice and steady. Forget the fruit juice for starters. Hate me for that? What if I told you ml for ml fruit juice has exactly the same sugar content as that fizzy stuff in an infamous red can. There’s method in what you may sometimes consider madness, I assure you.
Lunch like a Prince – more often than not you’re at work and your brain needs some serious energy. Don’t hold out until dinner time, give it what it wants now. Mountains of leafy green vegetables in a salad, leftovers from the night before, whatever you choose, get a good balance of fats, protein and veggies in there and you’re away. Note, unless Harry’s buying, you’re probably best off without the fizz…
Dinner like a Pauper – now, if you’ve done a mighty amount of exercise before your dinner I’m not advocating you order up a lettuce leaf for one. However, in general, if your dinner is your smallest meal of the day you’re doing your metabolism a massive favour by not overloading it before you bed down for the night. Ideally eat at least two hours before you hit the hay and a piece of fish and some steamed veggies is the holy grail of light suppers and remaining a lean, mean machine.
One of the best books I read last year was Michael Pollan’s “In defense of food”. It’s worth a look for all manner of things – especially the time he spends discussing how much we’re eating versus how much we should be eating.