“I’ve lost four pounds already just because I did what you told me!” My new client was ecstatic. Would you like to know what I had told her? Read on.
The trick to losing weight and getting healthier isn’t really a trick. It’s a series of lifestyle changes. While these ideas may seem small, they make a big difference. And it all has to do, not with a magic bullet or a new supplement or shake or diet or exercise program. Instead, it has to do with the proportions of the food on your plate.
Most of us are quick to load our plates up with the main event – the rich and protein-laden entree. We’ll add a sizable side of something starchy, like mashed potatoes or rice. Then and only then, we’ll add a bit of greenery like broccoli or salad. Finally, we’ll top the heap with a roll or two.
What if we changed, not the food, but the proportions? It could look more like this: Begin with a green vegetable or salad. Fill your plate half full. Yes, you heard me – half of the plate. Every meal, including breakfast. Your main dish takes up no more than one-fourth of your plate. And in the remaining fourth, add a small serving of potatoes or rice. If you have bread, it needs to take up real estate in the same quadrant as the potatoes or rice. Same plate, same food, different proportions. No guilt, no deprivation.
The 80% rule: Longevity studies show time and again that eating less contributes to a longer life. If you really want to jumpstart your path to weight loss, fill your plate only 80% full, and stop eating when you are 80% full. When I was a kid and we had dinner at my grandparents’ house, the uncles would joke about needing “sideboards.” Their plates were full, and they still wanted more room for extra food. At Thanksgiving it was even worse. No one left the table until they were stuffed and catatonic. In contrast, if you look at a plate that is 80% full, you’ll still be able to see the plate design around the edges.
Ever wonder where that bag of potato chips beside you disappeared to while you were engrossed in your favorite TV show? In order to stop eating when you are 80% full, you need to be engaged enough with your food for your brain to receive the “full” signal from your stomach. So, if you are reading, checking your email, texting, surfing the net, or watching TV, you’ll be more likely to overeat.
So, next time, take time. When you have dinner, stop your other activities to enjoy your meal and the conversations of your companions. Fill your plate half full with non-starchy vegetables, then add your entree and starchy foods sparingly. Eat slowly to enjoy the flavors and company, and to give your brain time to engage. Stop eating before you are too full and you’ll have no regrets.
Camille Watson is a health educator, speaker and published author of the book Eight Steps to a Real-Foods Kitchen. Her passion is to give individuals and groups the knowledge and tools they need to take back their health. If you are interested in learning more about achieving health through delicious, whole foods and lifestyle transformations, email firstname.lastname@example.org to attend one of her cooking classes or to schedule your free consultation.