Understanding the food industry tricks for healthy eating
One of the common stories we hear from people new to the Habits of Health is how frustrated they have felt in the past with portion control. They had tried to eat healthier, but counting calories and picking the right foods was overwhelming. The advice they heard from one source contradicted the advice they heard from another, and then they would discover that a food that sounded healthy was actually loaded with added sugar.
Unfortunately, the food industry uses slick marketing and clever positioning to get us to eat more so that we buy more. That’s why fast food salads often have more calories than the cheeseburgers on the same menu, and that’s why a single bag of chips will contain several “servings” to make the calorie count look smaller when it actually isn’t.
Tips to help you control how much you eat
When food manufacturers are deliberately misleading, how do we control how much we eat? Here are some tips:
- Follow the Habits of Health. If you open your copy of Dr. A’s Habits of Health, you will find several chapters on how to calculate your fueling needs as well as recommendations for serving sizes that you can estimate visually (if you know how big a deck of cards is, you can select the correct portion sizes). Your health coach can help you with this process as well.
- Use smaller plates. Not only should we avoid eating right out of the packaging, we should use dinnerware that limits our portions because we have a psychological tendency to eat everything in front of us, regardless of whether we really need to or not. Instead of using the huge 12-inch plates, use 9-inch plates so that you don’t over-serve yourself.
- Don’t eat in the kitchen. When we eat in proximity to other food, we will often end up reaching for extra bites or second helpings. When you plate your food, put everything away and go eat in the dining room.
- Turn the lights up. Restaurants use dim lighting in part because of how it affects our eating habits. We are more likely to overeat in low light, so you should have lots of light in your dining area. Use brighter bulbs. Open the curtains.
- Drink more water. Dehydration can make cravings more intense and more frequent. When you drink your eight glasses of water a day, you will likely find that your appetite is less aggressive, making it easier to mind your portions.
Portion control does not have to be a herculean effort. With a few simple adjustments and a lot of support from a positive community, you can make these choices an automatic part of your new lifestyle.