Gaining weight has become a major health concern for people of all ages and the problem is also affecting Bangladeshis. Despite certain awareness about keeping ones weight under control, weight loss is still a difficult journey for most people.
Through 'portion control', however, you can achieve discipline in your eating habits. Before one gains weight by eating excessively and untimely, choosing a healthy amount of certain food, which is called 'portion control' can help one draw the line, especially when s/he should stop eating.
According to research, proper and healthy portion control is characterised by moderation. While it is important to not eat too much of any particular type of food, it is also equally important to avoid eating too little. One should learn how his/her body is fully nourished through intake of proper amount of food.
It is not about deprivation as research shows when lesser amount of food is served, people do not leave the table hungry. Participants of some studies report that they rather feel just as satisfied with the smaller portion as with larger-sized meals.
And once someone starts feeling the benefits of eating smaller portions that result in weight loss, better digestion, and more energy, s/he will not be tempted to ask for more foods. Of course you have to rein in your appetite. To feel satisfied with lesser food at meals, it is recommended, one needs to eat three small meals plus two healthy snacks throughout the day.
There are a number of established methods to practise portion control. For example, one may have warm herbal tea or freshwater with lemon with each repast. The drinks help ones stomach feel full. If and when someone eats meat, use of palm to measure portions makes sure 'too much' is not taken.
Eating slowly and mindfully helps someone feel full and stop overeating. A combination of nutritious foods like mixture of vegetables, fruits, protein, fat and carbohydrates can help get vitamins and minerals required. Use of snack cups and small plates for between-meal eating can help stop overeating.
People should not rush on their meal. Eating slowly helps eat less and gives brain time to register fullness. One needs to get over the fear of carbs since if you are eating right kinds of grains and right portion, they do not make you fat. Use of a plate model is advisable because when it would look fuller; it will be tricking someone's brain into thinking s/he has more food.
Foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, broth-based soups, low-fat milk, legumes, poultry breast, and whitefish are called low-energy density foods. They provide a larger portion size for fewer calories. Desserts, processed foods, crackers, chips, and oils have a high energy density -- a small portion offers higher calories.
People need to put less importance to what they eat and more on how much they eat of any food, including those considered healthful. They need to train their brain so that they may feel satisfied with fewer calories because the key to losing weight is simpler than one might think: Portion control is a sustainable process.
One should remember that controlling portions also protect people from obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, insulin resistance, PCOs, and heart disease. One has to stick to the portion control plates until it becomes a habit. One must be careful about eating children's leftovers to prevent food wastage. One may inform the doctor about new diet and lifestyle and get body composition analysis done every month.
Fahmida Hashem is Senior Nutritionist at Labaid Cardiac Hospital.