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Do you eat out at restaurants?
Do you struggle to lose weight even if you exercise regularly?
Do you want to lose at least 10 pounds?
Losing Portion Distortion Pounds
Overeating is a common cause of stubborn weight. As a nutritionist and trainer, I know how big a servings are and how much people need to reach their weight loss goals. One of the biggest mistakes people commonly make, is they underestimate calorie count… even though they’re counting. Why? Because 10 out of 10 people who ‘diet’ or ‘eat healthy’ are actually eating multiple serving sizes, doubling, sometime tripling the calories the should be eating.
I’ve been there. My sophomore year of college, I remember my friend announced she was going on this fitness-model-type-diet, to “shred down” before a photo shoot. I should mention that my friend was like, ridiculously beautiful with a ridiculously perfect body… also, she modeled professionally. I felt like a mere mortal next to her too, so I was like, I want to do it too!! I mean, if it worked for her, maybe I could *finally* have a hot body, too!! She was excited to have someone to do it with her, too. “It’s sucks,” she said, “but you’ll lose, like 2 pounds a week. I’m not even kidding.”
So after class, we went out to lunch, and she handed me this piece of paper… I felt like I was being handed the keys to hot-girl heaven… As I started reading it, I felt stressed out. There was with a limited list of foods and very basic instructions for the diet. My food options were chicken breast, egg whites, oatmeal, broccoli, brown rice, sweet potato, lettuce. That’s it. The instructions? Pair 1 serving of a protein, with a serving of a carb. Eat 7 meals a day, every 2 hours. Do not eat after meal #7. Only drink water, black coffee. I instantly started missing cheese and coffee creamer… There was also a 6-day full body split weight training schedule. I was working out 1.5 hours a day, 6 days a week. After the first week, of following the plan together, my friend called me. First, she complained about being starving, but she lost 3 pounds her first week. I followed the plan perfectly, but I didn’t lose any weight.
What was I doing wrong? I was following the meal plan, but I wasn’t measuring my portion sizes. Serving sizes weren’t mentioned on the diet sheet… apparently, the bodybuilder who created the diet assumes, you’re supposed to know serving sizes are… 1/2 cups for carbs, 4 oz. for protein. I truly had no idea how big a serving size really was. She told me to use measuring cups and a scale.
So I bought my very first food scale, completely motivated to start fresh on Monday. Monday morning, I had a major lightbulb moment. I remember measuring out my oatmeal… the bowl looked empty… I remember thinking, that’s it?(!?!?!?!?!) The bowl looked, so sad and empty. This was far less than what I was used to eating. Hmmmmm. I took the oatmeal and filled the bowl, the way I normally would. Then I poured it from the bowl to the measuring cup. HOLY CANOLI! No wonder why I wasn’t losing weight!
I was eating nearly 4 times the amount of oatmeal I should have been eating…
…that was just the carb. My go-to protein at breakfast was eggs whites… the kind you can buy in a carton. I measured them the same way. I quickly realized I was eating 5 times the serving I was supposed to be having. I crunched the numbers. I had been eating 1100 calories of oatmeal and egg whites. I thought I had been eating 300 total. Turns out after tracking just 1 day that I was eating nearly 3200 more calories than I thought. Every. Single. Day. Thank God, I was exercising! Otherwise I would have been gaining 2 pounds a week. I became very aware that I had a misbelief about food that was keeping me stuck. Portion distortion was one of the reasons why every single diet completely failed me. I was chronically overeating, completely wasting my time.
Realizing I was suffering from portion distortion happened years before my career as a nutritionist and trainer started… It’s actually one of the events that triggered my weight loss and wellness career to start.
Every single person I’ve ever worked with has suffered from portion distortion, too. They aren’t measuring their serving sizes… they assume they’re ‘eating healthy’ when really, they’re eating far too much, of the wrong things, at the wrong times. You can lose weight, filling up on smaller sizes. Here is my absolute best advice for getting used to mastering portion distortion, measuring serving sizes, and how to fill up with less food.
Best Tips to Master Serving Sizes and Cure Portion Distortion
Here are 3 easy ways you can master portion distortion and start losing weight.
Master Servings No Matter Where are you
Cooking at Home:
Many products have a recommended serving size on their labels. Each serving will contain a specific amount of nutrients, calories and fats, which also are listed on the label. Some serving sizes are determined by the manufacturer according to dietary guidelines provided by the FDA. Ready to eat foods or boxed meal mixes fall into this category.
Read the nutrition label. Find the serving sizing and calorie count. Then, use measuring cups, spoons, and food scales to measure out the servings, then prepare as you usually would. Measure out everything, sauces, condiments, oils, fats, etc. Food scales range in price. You don’t need anything extremely high-tech. I recommend a basic digital scale. You can easily find them at Wal-mart, Target and online for under $30.
At a Restaurant:
Tracking your calories while dining out is highly recommended. A lot of menu items have anywhere from 2 to 6 servings per plate. A lot of people eat out and don’t realize they’re actually eating multiple servings, but they can’t seem to help eating, because it’s really delicious. There’s one reason restaurant food tastes so much better than home cooking… Restaurants are notorious for adding tons of extra butter, oil, salt, and sugar, so their food tastes great. But just how much butter goes into a restaurant meal? Page Six Magazine asked tops chefs in New York City and couldn’t get anyone to confess on the record. But a certain well-known cook did admit, “I use 3 to 4 ounces of butter—about one stick—to cook any steak larger than 8 ounces.” That’s an extra 900 calories in butter alone.
Restaurants are legally required to provide patrons with a breakdown of nutrition information for each item on their menu. But a lot of restaurants don’t have that info readily available, plus it’s easy to assume something is healthy… when really, it’s not a good choice for weight loss at all. Take the lettuce wraps at PF Chang’s for example… You’d assume that vegetarian lettuce wraps are ‘healthier’ than the chicken lettuce wraps. When really, the vegetarian wraps have more calories and fat. Always look up the nutritional information at restaurants. It’s easy to overeat servings and calories when you’re assuming something is healthy. It’s not uncommon to find a salad with more calories, fat and sodium than a cheeseburger and fries.
Every single time you’re about to eat out, Google the nutrient content for the restaurant, on your phone. Once you have a breakdown of the nutrition info, check the number of servings per entree or appetizer. You can split a meal with someone else, or with yourself, and box the rest and take some home. Boom, tomorrow’s lunch is already ready, already.
- 1 Fist = 1 cup or 1 serving of vegetables
- Palm without fingers = 3-4 oz., 1 serving of protein
- 1 cupped palm = ½ cup of a fruit or starch, potato, beans, rice, etc.
- Full Thumb = 1 ounce or 1 serving of solid fats like cheese, avocado, nuts
- Tip of Thumb = 1 tsp. or 1 serving of liquid fats like, oil, butter, mayonnaise
More Tips & Tricks to Get Used to Smaller Sizes
Drink Water Like it’s Your Job
Drinking calorie and sugar dense drinks, aren’t very satisfying, and can actually trigger cravings to eat, and drink more. Drinking ice water and unsweetened freshly-brewed teas, will help keep you hydrated, healthy and hormonally balanced. If your body was a car, water would be your gasoline. Water makes up over 70% of you body. You can live for weeks without food, but only days without water. Dehydration can cause cravings and fatigue. Your body is craving water, but often times people choose sugary or caffeinated foods to get the fix they need. Drinking water is absolutely essential for regulating your metabolism, digestion, hunger and other hormones. Medications, allergies, protein intake, weather, pollution, exercise, sodium, and toxins, all trigger fluctuations in your water requirements. If you’re drinking enough, you’ll have to go to the bathroom every 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours.
Fill Up To Fake Out your Brain
Water will also help you fill up and prevent overeating. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register that you are full. That means you could eat for 20 minutes straight, before your brain will trigger Ghrelin production to get you to feel the desire to stop eating. Grehlin is a hormone that controls your desire to pick up the fork and when to put it back down. Drinking a glass of water, before during and after helps physically take up space in your stomach and regulate hunger, preventing the ability and desire to overeat.
Try Bite Rally’s
Bite rally’s help make you feel satisfied and prevent overeating, too. Think of a bite rally like a bootcamp drill… 1 round of Bite Rally Bootcamp is: 2 sips of water, followed by 2 bites of a veggie, one bite of protein, and finishes with 1 bite of a carb. Repeating this 2-2-1-1 pattern, will help you two ways. It allows you to take up space in your stomach with low calorie, high nutrient foods. It also ensures, you’ll get the perfect proportions weight loss friendly foods needed to trigger your body to release fat.
Trade in Your Dinner Plate for a Salad Plate
Use salad plates instead of dinner plates. A lot of people don’t like seeing empty space on a plate… it makes them feel like they’re going without or different, especially when dining out with others who aren’t living a healthy, weight loss and wellness lifestyle. Studies have shown that a smaller plate tricks your brain into thinking you have more food, which is helpful when you’re getting used to eating true portion sizes.
Use Ramekins or Mugs as Bowls
Bowls are considerably larger than the serving sizes of many popular dishes. Use cups and ramekins for higher calorie foods. Reserve your bowls for low-calorie foods, like vegetables.
Use these simple tips to get your Food Right and Body Tight.
This works, if you work it.
Your Biggest Cheerleader
Christina Carlyle is a certified Holistic Nutritionist, Sports Nutrition Specialist, Personal Trainer, Health Coach, & Behavior Modification Specialist. After overcoming her own health issues, getting off 7 medications, & losing 40 pounds (& keeping it off for 10+ years) she’s dedicated to helping others get Happy, Healthy, & Fit for life, with science-backed strategies. Christina shares real deal (no BS) weight loss and wellness advice, workouts, and recipes that get results and work in the real world.