The Devil Inside: Portion Control

So one of my cats is a bit, err, well, he’s fat. Just a little! Sorry, Maceo, but we’re talking about weight and health here. I have always lovingly called him “big-boned,” but we know that’s not true for him … OR me. Why am I bringing up my cat? I’ll tell you. Last few visits to the vet prompted the doctor to sit me down for a little chat. We needed to practice better portion control. Instead of leaving out a bowl of dry food for the kitties to listlessly graze on throughout the day, I had to start putting down a specific measurement for them at specific times of the day. He had to lose some weight and this, along with some additional exercise/play time, was the plan of action.

Cutting back on my little buddy’s food wasn’t easy … poor thing kept whining and wanting treats throughout the day – and I’m a sucker for a cute critter. But I held my ground and made him stick to his diet. Guess what? Six months later, my boy is two pounds lighter after his vet visit on Saturday. He lost 11% of his original body weight! Again, yeah, I know we’re talking about an animal – why is this relevant? Inner dialogue: “Uh, hello, fatty, you are controlling your pet’s portions and not your own?

 

So now we discuss human portion control … feel free to listen to your accompanying SOTD above while we discuss. I am the poster girl for lack of self-control when it comes to food prior to my Whole30/Paleo project. I would have absolutely no problem going back to my pot of pasta and refilling (not filling, REfilling!) that bowl twice and topping that off with a few glasses of wine. I was also a grazer. Snacks would magically pop up out of thin air at the office, after I got home from work, after dinner … just small bites here and there, NBD, right? Wrong! I am now making sure to limit my snacking to only when absolutely necessary, and getting the right items on my plate at meals to keep me satiated until the next one. What’s the right amount of food for your plate? Check out these guidelines form the Whole30 program which easily translate into life after Whole30. You’re not a cow, stop grazing.

One of the other things I am consciously making an effort to do is watch the size of the plates in front of me. Not just the amount of food on the plate – but the size of the actual PLATE the food is going on. This is not my brilliant, original idea that’s going to put me on the map in the blogosphere. Lots of diet programs recommend this technique. Your plate is filled because it’s physically smaller and not an oasis of food in the vast desert of a plate the size of a serving platter – so you feel like you’ve got more food in front of you thanks to a heaping dish of yum. Additionally, a smaller plate requires you to make a conscious decision to go back for a second (or in the case of my mortifying pasta example, third) serving.

The photos in the header and below are not meant to be a Food-Porn or Pin-Worthy shot – it’s basically “brown food,” as my friend Lauren would say. The purpose of the photos are to show you the difference in plate size. Wouldn’t that roasted veggie scramble look pathetic in the middle of the black, round dish? Oh, you didn’t know that was a dish from just the header shot? You thought maybe it was a placemat? Nope. This meal contains over a cup of veggies, reheated in a skillet with some healthy fat and two whole eggs! That is PLENTY of food for a snowy-day-lunch at home – especially since I’ve been mostly sedentary on the computer and reading my book this afternoon. On the white, square dish it looks much more filling in my opinion … and I didn’t need to scramble up another round after finishing like I initially thought I would when I first reached for that giant plate.

plates

I keep these smaller plates in easy reach on the counter next the the stove – didn’t even have to stage this for you … much. Fine, for cryin’ out loud I moved the plates from the right side of the mixer to the left … because the lighting was prettier. Guilty. But they really are there! Always! Now I will be making sure I use them for my meals on a regular basis and consciously place a specific amount of food on them, while also making sure I get my exercise, as forced upon el gato.

smallplates

These cute little plates are a set of 8 with different cities and illustrations on them from Crate and Barrel that I received as a gift (seriously, do people know me or what?) but there are plenty of options of slightly larger appetizer plates available online, at Bed Bath & Beyond with one of the fifteen thousand 20% off coupons you receive in the mail, HomeGoods, Target or whatever other stores you like to frequent. If you’ve been eating off of plates meant for an episode of Man vs. Food, drop the twelve to twenty dollars on a set of app plates and experiment on your own. Find something fun you want to use and brighten up your kitchen a little.

This weekend I went to a little French bistro with a group of friends and did the same thing: put small plates in front of myself. I had my eye on a delicious appetizer but didn’t want to be “that girl” not eating while everyone else was celebrating with huge piles of goodness. I told the waiter I was not a dainty eater, and asked if a salad and the appetizer I had my eye on would be enough for me … he didn’t even try to up-sell with a double portion. With a nod of his head and an “absolutely” my order was off to the chef. Who can accuse you of being anorexic when you’ve had a bowl of incredible mushroom soup from the gluten-free menu, a frisee salad topped with bacon and a poached egg, and lemon shrimp over cauliflower puree? No one, that’s who. All appetizers, all delicious, and just as satisfying as the heaping piles of steak frites on the plates to either side of me.

So far, since starting our first Challenge in January, I’m down 15 pounds (including the muscle I’ve been gaining!) which is 8% of my starting body weight. Pretty good for two months, huh? But the truth still remains … I’ve been beaten in my weight-loss ventures by the cat. Time to catch up!

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Dorothy

Book hoarder. Red lipstick aficionado. Compulsive shopper. Crazy cat lady. Adores alliteration; couldn't give a @$%& about an Oxford Comma.

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