This blog is an accounting of my personal journey to find fitness. All the content on this blog should be read as a biographical piece of literature, not a medical resource. I am a physician, but I am in no way giving medical advice or establishing doctor patient relationships with my readers. I am simply keeping a diary. If you are starting a diet or exercise program or require medical evaluation or advice, please see your own family physician.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday and the lesson that SIZE matters (sorry guys)

This week has gone pretty well, despite incredible stress at work. Being a business owner is one of the best and worst experiences of my life. It is a daily lesson in stress management.

I had planned on getting up this morning and exercising before work as usual, but my body said, "Please. Can I just rest this morning?" Usually, I tell my body to shut up and go on, but I have been working hard and I am very sore. I decided to go to the gym at lunch and relax as a special treat this morning. So, here I am blogging in precious silence and listening to the birds.

Last night I had a tasty dinner of marinated flank steak, green beans, mashed potatoes and salad with goat cheese and granny smith apples. The total calories was 635, but I was still under for the day with my workout.

So I've been thinking a lot about size. And I've decided that size does, in fact, matter. It matters in many aspects of life, but I've found that in my new healthy lifestyle it is critical. It occurred to me the other day that about a year ago, I started using one of my kids plastic plates to eat on, nearly all the time. I don't know now why I started the habit. I think it's because they aren't as heavy and have this little rim to keep stuff from dripping off the sides. This comes in very handy when eating meals on the sofa in front of the TV.

......Ok. Look. I know that's not a great habit. And, we are having at least 1-2 meals at the table now. But, I like watching TV. Probably too much. But, now that I'm exercising I indulge myself with my shows at times........ I know. Defensive. Sorry. Still struggling with that little thing called guilt.

Anyhoo---I realized the other day how much this helps me limit what I'm eating and still feel satisfied afterward. Like pasta for example. I love it. A lot. But, when I eat it I gain weight. Every. Single. Time. I have to be careful with how much and how often. It is one of those foods I eat and have trouble stopping before I'm overstuffed. The last time I made spaghetti I used my favorite plate. I measured out 1 cup and realized that it was just too much for my little Pooh Bear plate. So I ended up putting 1/2 cup. By the time I added veggies my plate was full. After, I was still a little hungry and I had plenty of calories left for the day, so I had seconds. Yes. Seconds. BUT, even with that I only had 1 cup of the pasta. AND, the best part is I was full. Not unbutton the pants full, but comfortable, my brain says stop full.

I realized that I have made a habit of doing something I've heard on many diets I've been on without even knowing it or doing it for diet reasons. How many times has a WW leader said, "eat on a smaller plate" and I've thought, "Yeah right Lady, that will make that 4 points fill me up so much faster"? I guess I was wrong. It does really help. My plate always looks full and attractive. AND, I eat less. AND, if I really want more, I can generally have some without as much guilt.

I've found that I'm pretty good at "eye-balling" amounts. I measure new foods or things I'm unsure of, but the stuff I eat all the time, I generally don't. I know how much is 1/2 cup or 1 tbsp. I'm pretty good at weight for meats as well. (I guess I should be since I've been dieting and measuring and weighing food since I was about 9 yrs old. I don't know whether to be proud about it or incredibly sad. But, I digress again.) Sometimes I play a game where I put the amount I think is 1/2 cup on my plate and THEN measure to see if I was right. I generally am. They really should have a sport for this. I'm pretty sure I'd MEASURE up to the competition. Ha! (Sorry I live with a punster.)

My question today is, how do you handle portion control? Do you measure or eyeball? Do you check yourself like I do to be sure your eyeballs are correct? Or maybe you have some handy tips. I love free advice. Hee hee.

Well, it's time to shower and get ready for work. For some reason people expect their doctor to be bathed and dressed when they arrive for appointments. Bummer. Have a great Friday!


  1. This is a great post! Honestly, you are a very good writer, and you have a lot of insightful comments about food. I always look forward to reading your blog!

    BUT ANYWAY! I love the tip about eating on a smaller plate. That's so simple, so easy, and it's really effective! I always eat on a small plate! (I try to use the same small plates that I give my cat "yummy food" on. Small.) I got this tip after I visited Japan, and I noticed that while they had several "courses" at each meal, each course was served on itsy-bitsy plates! It was so cute, I had to try it. It helps tremendously with portion control.

    But when it comes to training myself about portion control, I honestly had to force myself to measure, measure, measure. Even today, I busted out the measuring cups to see how much 50 calories of Cheerios was. I use my food scale to weigh my meat. There's a big difference between 3 oz of meat and 6 oz of meat! I have done this for so long that I'm pretty good at eyeballing something, but I try to measure stuff 1-2 times per week, just to keep me honest.

    Another idea of portion control: They say that you should have meat in the size that fits into the palm of your hand. But this is applicable to other items too. You shouldn't eat more than "the palm of your hand"-sized food. No more than a palm-worth of pasta. Or palm-worth of bread. A palm-worth of veggies is about right, too, although more veggies is usually okay! So "Palming-it" is a good method of measuring.

    Another idea: Take the portion size that you really want. Then immediately box up half of it. This is a great tip for eating at a restaurant. When the waitress brings your food to the table, immediately ask for a take-home box. Box up half of your food before you ever take a first bite. At home, take half of the portion size and box up half for lunch tomorrow. It's "The Rule of Halves!"

    Hope that helps!

  2. Great Post. I love the thought of your little Pooh Bear plate. I have ended up with several sets of dinnerware (mine, my mom's, my grandmother's, etc). One, especially has lovely, small dinner plates that are perfect for great presentation without over-stuffing. As to measuring. I spot check some times, but I'm pretty good at estimating. I also use the rules of thumb that Christine mentioned, above.

  3. Yes, i am a bit too old to be out so latehitting up taco bell! Your food faves you shared on my blog are right up my alley. Portion control, I eyeball. Read up enough to use visual reference for what portion sizes shoukd look like (e.g. serving of meat size ofa deck of cards) and for the most part I keep them to those references.

  4. I have smaller cereal bowls but still haven't bought smaller dinner plates. I need to, as I love the sight of a full plate!

    And I still weigh and measure things like cereal, nuts and crackers. Not really on meat, but that's because I don't eat it very often.


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