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Too Much of a Good Thing: Portion Control Part Two

11.08.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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I often hear from my clients, “I eat healthy foods yet I can’t seem to lose weight, I don't understand why.” One of the most common reasons is they are consuming too much of a good thing!

Portion control is key when it comes to managing one’s weight.

The "Food Record" is the most powerful tool when it comes to weight control. Click here to see my previous blog on keeping a food record.

Two important pieces of information your food records will reveal:

1. Non-hunger eating
2. Beyond-fullness eating

In both cases you are consuming calories (energy) your body does not need. Calories your body does not use are then stored as fat. You can think of fat cells as the energy storage closet of the body.

Weight gain will result if you continue taking in more calories than you expend day after day, week after week, month after month. The body does not discriminate - calories from protein, carbohydrates or fats - can all be stored as fat if eaten in excess.

To prevent this weight gain, practice the following:

Review your food record from last week and identify anytime your HUNGER rating was a 5 or higher when you BEGAN eating. This means you ate without being hungry.

Hunger is the body’s signal that it is low on fuel. Non-hunger eating is taking in food when your body does not need it. Again, if you take in calories you do not need, they are stored in your fat cells.

If you find you often eat when you are not hungry it is important to reflect on why. Some of the most common reasons for non-hunger eating include:

- Boredom
- Stress
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Opportunistic Eating (the food is there and it looks good)
- Procrastination
- Habit
- Peer Pressure

It is fine to partake in non-hunger eating occasionally, however if you do it on a regular basis, it will most likely lead to weight gain. Good news is, there are healthier and more effective ways of dealing with the reasons for non-hunger eating! Here are a few:

- Call a friend
- Take a walk or bike ride
- Read a fun magazine, novel or your favorite blog
- Break down the chore/project into small steps (more on tips for overcoming procrastination http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_96.htm)
- Put a piece of gum in your mouth (for habit eating)
- Shore up an excuse bank (for peer/family pressure)

If you find you are using food to deal with emotions, including anxiety and depression, I highly recommend making an appointment with a credentialed mental health professional. They are trained to provide you with healthy tools to manage emotions so that you do not need to lean on food for this purpose. To find a qualified professional in your area, visit: http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/

Weekly Goal: Your goal for this week is to continue to keep your food record and pay special attention to rating your hunger from 1-10 before putting anything in your mouth. If your hunger level is a 5 or higher find an alternative activity rather than eating.

I’d love to hear strategies that you come up with to manage your non–hunger eating. Please share with us in the comment section below!

Next week we will tackle “Beyond Fullness Eating.”

Make it a healthy week!
- Jane

Further reading:
- Intuitive Eating: http://www.intuitiveeating.org/
- Overcoming Over Eating: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56586&page=2
- List of resources: http://www.nourishingconnections.com/Links.htm

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