Healthy Lifestyle Tip #9: Control Portions and/or Frequency

Besides further developing my deep and abiding love of vegetables, another thing that has really helped me on my journey to being healthier is to allow myself to eat anything I want. Nothing is off limits! For the things that aren’t as healthy, I just either don’t eat a lot of it at one time, or I don’t eat it very often. I also think about whether something is really worth splurging on–like the store bought birthday cake at a kid’s birthday party probably wouldn’t be, but dessert at a 5 star restaurant might just be worth those extra calories. Knowing that I can eat anything I want helps me make better choices about what I will eat.

I practice portion control every time I eat, for everything except vegetables. For most things, I know what a serving looks like now, but if I am ever in doubt I still bring out my measuring cups or scale. I keep in mind the USDA MyPlate guidelines, although I tend to eat a lot more vegetables than the graphic represents.

USDA ChooseMyPlate Guidelines

Using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate has also helped me control portion sizes. Often what I choose for a grain at dinnertime has some veggies involved as well (e.g. polenta with veggie tomato sauce, quinoa salad) or I’ll have some sweet potato or corn instead of the grain. My protein is usually fish or other lean meats, and occasionally a vegetarian protein source like tempeh or tofu.

There are some foods where it is the frequency I control instead of (or along with) the portion size. Things like dessert, steak, and artisan bread fall into this category, as do meals out at restaurants.

I have been eating this way for so long, it is a habit that is no longer at all difficult to maintain. I think I actually appreciate the food I’m eating more now, knowing that the amount I will eat is limited. I make sure to make the most of every bite.

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