I need you to help me with something.
Something I have been milling over ever since a conversation Tate and I had weeks ago.
If you eat whole, real food at every meal and you are, and always have been, at a healthy and happy weight, is it important to be aware of potion size?
It’s not important because
- it’s the ultimate intuitive eating! Fill your body with what you want and feel you need, nothing more, nothing less.
- portion “control” is mostly about caloric intake, if your weight is a complete non-issue than so is portion control.
- many portion sizes are built in (a piece of bread, an apple) so you are going to eat “a portion” anyway.
It is important because
- although portion awareness is mostly about calories, it’s also important for understanding your intake of fats, proteins, and micronutrients.
- you can make informed decisions about how and where to get your calories and nutrients.
- even if you are at a healthy weight it’s important to understand how quickly calories add up, especially with high-fat food.
I have had more than one client who claimed they ate whatever they wanted, and how much they wanted, for years without gaining weight. They were at a total lose when, seemingly all of a sudden, the pounds started piling on. Even if they ate quality, whole food, the balance was off.
As a volume eater myself (low calorie foods in generous quantity is my preferred “diet”), I would teach these clients about finding a balance between appetite, nutrition, and quantity (portion size). I firmly believe that had my clients had this information and awareness throughout their life they would have had an easier time maintaining healthy weights.
“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”
Even good medicine in the wrong dose can become detrimental to your health.
I think a balance of thinking and not thinking about portions is helpful. For each person, the portion that makes their body happy and full may be different so becoming aware of that is important. Looking at portions often helps people make better food decisions and realize what types of food will fuel their body better.
Anna, what a great comment, thanks! After all, official portion sizes are a bit arbitrary, no?
I think that portion size is important, even if you’re at a healthy weight. People’s metabolisms change, so if a person is aware of portion size and nutrition, they can better adjust their eating to their current needs. Also, portion sizes today are often four or five times what they should be (i.e. if you get a muffin at a bakery, it’s not going to be the usual 2 oz serving size – you’re more likely to get a 6 or 8 oz muffin), so knowing the correct portion size is important. Even if a person has always been an intuitive eater, if something in their life happened, like illness (which could change a person’s appetite) or an emotional change which could push the person toward emotional eating, then the person might have a more difficult time being intuitive and may have to rely on portion sizes for a short time. Overall, I think a general awareness of correct portion size is important, especially when portions in today’s society are usually so large.
Well said and I completely agree. I also believe that the awareness that a muffin is actually 2 or more “servings” can effect a persons appetite. This is especially important in a culture where, like you said, you may be served a bowl FULL of pasta. By having the knowledge that the bowl contains, for example, upwards of 800 calories before the sauce you can tell yourself that you really only need half of it and be satisfied. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!
Thanks for your response! I completely agree with you. Only a few years ago, I was completely unaware of serving size, and so I’d eat a whole huge dessert and not feel any more or less guilty than if I had eaten the actual portion size, because I wasn’t aware of the difference. Now I’m aware, and portion sizes shock me!
I’ve been a “real food” eater for years, and when I hit 35, my metabolism completely changed. I’ve gained a lot of weight (which is also due to dating a fellow foodie, so we make amazing food together!) which I know is solely due to portion size. It’s frustrating, because it would be much easier to stop drinking soda and eating Cheetos, but I don’t do those things! I’m really struggling right now.
I am sorry to hear that you are having a hard time. It’s so true that it would be relatively simple to stop eating junk. It’s much more complicated to change your metabolism or relationship with food. I wish you all the best in your journey and am here for moral support if you need it.