Healthy, moderate food portions are important, even though we probably don’t spend much time thinking about it. Sometimes the portions we consume are formed by habit over a period of time. Consuming more food does not necessarily equal better nutrition or better health.
I was very aware of the issue of moderate food portions, and consistently choosing the right foods for myself when I recently took a vacation to Alaska via Celebrity Cruise Lines. This is a terrific way to travel and I knew from previous experience that cruise ships have the most incredible food you can imagine, available almost 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. I knew it would be a huge temptation for me to get into a new habit of venturing outside of my normal healthy dietary lifestyle. My goal was to stick with eating the healthy food that I am used to consuming daily, and in the correct portions for my body, so that I would not gain weight during my vacation.
Moderate food portions
It is not necessary to eat large portions in order to get the nutrition your body needs. Sometimes in our western culture people tend to think that if ‘some is good’ then more must be better. This is definitely not true when it comes to food portions.
Moderation every day is the key, as well as knowing which foods serve your body for optimal health. Consider using the visual image of a food plate. Here’s how a healthy balanced meal would look: Visualize 1/2 to almost 3/4 of the plate full of healthy fresh vegetables; slightly more than ¼ of the plate full of healthy protein; and as an option – less than ¼ of the plate would contain a healthy grain. The most nutrition in a meal will be derived from the protein and the healthy carbohydrates found in the vegetables. Note that grains are not a necessity in terms of the nutrition they contain, because enough fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients can be obtained from fresh vegetables.
There are 5 reasons why moderate portions are important:
1. Overloaded digestive system
Overeating can overwhelm your digestive system, causing the foods to be digested much more slowly and much less efficiently. This makes it more difficult for your digestive processes to extract the nutrients from the food. For some people, eating too much can be downright painful (stomach cramps).
2. Stressed elimination system
Overeating can cause undue strain on your elimination system, causing it to be sluggish, or making it more difficult for your body to get rid of the waste products. Not eliminating the waste products efficiently can cause toxicity in your body, a very serious issue. Good health depends upon waste products being removed efficiently.
3. Blood sugar issues
Too much of some foods, particularly highly refined or sugary foods, can cause blood sugar issues. Quantity matters when it comes to blood sugar balance. Some foods could be low glycemic in small quantities, yet become high glycemic (meaning they will cause blood sugar issues) in large amounts. This is particularly true of grains (or foods we consume as grains). Quinoa is a good example. Quinoa is healthy and it contains both fiber and protein. Even so, a portion of 1/3 cup or less is low glycemic, but when more than 1/3 cup is consumed it becomes high glycemic. Bananas are another example: ½ of a medium sized banana is low glycemic, yet when you consume the whole banana at one sitting there is enough natural sugar to cause a blood sugar spike. When your body is forced to produce excess insulin (a fat storing hormone) on a continuous basis, it causes weight gain and other health issues.
4. Weight gain and increased health risk
Eating huge quantities of food is one of the biggest reasons for weight gain and the obesity epidemic that we are currently seeing in our North American culture. When people eat too much food – it isn’t generally healthy salads or veggies they are overloading on. It is often highly refined foods, sugary foods and junk food, which cause blood sugar issues and result in excess fat being produced – as explained in the above point about blood sugar balance.
It is not uncommon for people to gain weight while on (any type of) vacation. Statistics show that many people gain about 10 pounds on a 7 to 10 day cruise. That is a staggering weight gain of between 3/4 and 1pound per day! At that rate, even if it is temporary for only 1 month – a person could gain between 22 ½ and 30 pounds! If weight gain continues at that rate it becomes incredibly dangerous. A weight gain of even 22 ½ pounds can make the difference between a healthy weight, and being obese. It can also have a huge impact on health risk factors, which means it could put a person at risk for very serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more.
5. Low energy or sluggishness
Eating too much food simply makes you feel tired or sluggish! It robs you of energy and leaves you feeling like you don’t want to be physically active at all, resulting in lack of exercise. In the case of being on a cruise ship – it is super easy to spend ‘sea days’ (the days when the ship is in transit and not visiting a port) sitting too much, not being active – and eating more food than you need.
Listen to your body
Your body will tell you when you have had enough to eat. After a meal, take a moment to connect with your body and listen to what your body is telling you physically. Do you feel physically comfortable, or do you feel physically overloaded with food? Think about how your body physically feels when you have had the correct amount of food. Now, at your next meal, you will be able to recall the physical feeling of being satisfied by the correct portions of food. During that meal, check in with your body and listen to what it is telling you. This exercise will empower you to have moderate portions of food.
Counterbalance the effects of overeating
Get your energy going by becoming active. Let’s use the cruise vacation as an example. If you are going from one floor to another – take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or walk around the ship’s jogging track, weather and wind permitting. Or you can even walk from one end of the ship to the other end on each floor. When visiting a port – try to allow some time to walk around the port area and explore the shops and local attractions that are nearby.
Note – these same suggestions can apply in many circumstances, including different types of vacations. The basic principle is: find someplace to walk to, and start walking! Walking is one of the best exercises that you can do. Uphill, downhill, on level ground, up stairs, down stairs, around the block a few times – it doesn’t matter. Just go for it! Drinking lots of pure water will also help your body deal with an overload of food.
The bottom line
Carefully choose the portions of food you eat daily, especially when you are out of your normal environment (vacations), and strive for moderation at every meal or snack. Remember that some is good, but more is not necessarily better or healthy. Getting daily exercise will always help move the excess food through your system and it will give you energy. Oddly enough, you have to expend energy (and have determination) to do the exercise, yet it will give you energy – which is counter-intuitive.
Are you struggling with how to consistently maintain healthy food portions? Are you confused as to exactly what nutrition will support your body for optimal health? Do you need support and more knowledge about nutrition to reach your health goals? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions – I invite you to contact me. Let’s have a conversation to see how I can support you in reaching your health goals.
Copyright © 2017 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved