The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The 1/2 Portion Diet - Eat as you will, but do less harm

During a recent conversation with a friend living in Austria, he told me about a diet he had been on that had proved highly successful. In fact, although it took some time to adjust, he was able to incorporate it into his everyday life as a permanent change.  It did not call for pills. There were no points to count or complicated plans to adhere to. There were not any prepackage frozen meals and he didn't even have to stop eating the things he loved. There was just one simple rule - cut your portions in half. Now this may seem painful and difficult to achieve, however, there are some simple tricks that help.

1) Cook only what is to be eaten at each meal and serve it up on a plate.  This will prove so helpful in numerous ways.

Temptation to eat more is virtually removed! Without heaping bowls served up the old fashioned family style sitting in front of your eyes, begging you to take second, third and fourth helpings, the chances are improved you'll finish your plate and be satisfied.

Portion size is much more easily controlled! Just make sure you know what a "normal portion" actually is and cut that in half.  More on that topic coming up.

No left overs! Your refrigerator and environment will appreciate the fact that you are not buying a endless supply of plastic containers to save the left overs in, stock piling them high and taking up space on the shelves. 

You'll won't need a second or double sized fridge running up your electric bill! You would be surprised how many families have one hidden in the garage or basement, just for this purpose.

No guilt and  the accompanying boredom that comes with trying to finish it all off before it goes bad!

There will not be biology experiments growing in the back of the fridge, growing a rainbow of putrid colored molds until you can no longer recognize what it was to begin with. 

Here in America, we are sinfully guilty of throwing away food, letting it go to waste, while people are starving.  Over 100 billion pounds of edible food each year ends up in dumpsters and garbage cans.  We should be ashamed.

Saves on money, supplies, electricity, time and calories while cutting down on waste. How can you go wrong with that formula?

2) Serve food on smaller plates.  You wouldn't believe how large dishes have grown over time.  There is a direct correlation between the increase in plate size to increase in waist size.

The size of a typical dinner plate back in the 1960's was 8 1/2 inches. By the 1970's they averaged  10 inches. Now they are 12 inches in diameter. This makes for a whopping 30% increase not only in material but calories as well. Is it any surprise that we are all growing at about the same rate? 

Restaurants serve up heaping loads of food on platters that are 13 inches and up, 2-4 times the recommended serving size. Multiple that by the average family of four there is enough food family for a month in some countries.

Many of us were brought up with our mothers telling us to "finish everything on your plate". That may have been fine way back when, but now?  Habit and adherence to Mom's words make us try to get our money's worth and compete everything right up to the last bite. No wonder so many people complain of feeling sick, bloated or as if they ate a cow as they walk out of most restaurants.  It's not so far from the truth!

But don't worry you can always pollute the environment some more and have them pack it up in Styrofoam containers to pack away in the fridge with all your other leftovers that you'll snack on in between meals and late at night when it does the most harm.

Personally, my husband and I don't mind paying the extra dish fee and splitting a meal. The waiter may get nervous but we tip as though two meals had been served. In turn, we go home comfortablysatisfied and not adding a couple of pounds to the scale in return for over indulgence.

There is a move to try to get restaurants to use smaller plates, thus serving sizes.  There's a plus to this.  Less cost for the restaurant means they can spend more on higher quality products.  And if you wonder why the French are so skinny? They eat well and in smaller portions. That's the difference between eating gourmet and pigging down at the trough.

3) Consider a few minor adjustments to what you put on your plate. Decrease the meat, fat and starchy foods and increase the the veggies or add a side salad (lite on the dressing).  Your plate will still look full, but you'll be eating a healthier combo. High glycemic foods tend to crank up the hunger pangs.  If you have to eat them, lower the portion and add more filler with lean protein and high fiber carbs.

It's amazing how we can trick our brains. The smaller plate or larger portion of veggies looks like we're getting MORE, so in turn your senses are satisfied. 

However, if you're worried that your stomach doesn't listen to your brain, try couple of more tricks.  Drink down a large glass of water before eating. It gives you the extra fluid your body probably doesn't get enough of in the first place and fills you.  I find having the salad and allowing time for it to settle in before beginning dinner also quenches the appetite. Most people eat too fast; always on the run. This doesn't give the brain time enough to calculate the sensation of being full so you end up eating until your stomach is ready to explode instead.  Let your brain lead the way. The stomach is a stupid organ.

4) Know your portion sizes. Read and learn.  PORTION - NO!  PORTION - NORMAL!   HEALTHY PORTION.

Portion sizes have increased in every food group at a ridiculous rate.  Chances are you have no idea what a normal portion size is anymore.  Restaurants and fast food chains have brainwashed us into SUPER-SIZING everything including your ass, that now needs a chair the size of what the average love seat used to be.

Lets get real. The sample size is just about perfectThe kids size is more in line with the amount you should be limiting yourself to.  The appetizer size is more than enough.   Just listen to the name.  Look at the words.  They warn those intelligent to take heed.  A WHOPPER, A BIG MAC, THE BACONATOR DOUBLE! ALL SERVED UP SUPER-SIZED. You WILL become what you eat!  And as for your grandmother saying Mangia! She hates you for thinking of putting her in the old age home. She's serving up revenge - not love!

5) Choose where you eat carefully. Cheap, fast, unhealthy food subsidized by the government  is designed for one thing - TO MAKE MONEY and  KEEP YOU ADDICTED.  Healthy natural foods, in normal portions may cost more, may they will not cost you your life.

6) Shop on a "as need" basis. Don't stockpile as though the end of the world is approaching. More frequent trips get you out and moving. It keeps the temptation to "graze" down.

So think about subtraction rather than addition,  division rather than multiplication. LESS IS MORE. More healthy, more satisfying, more economical, more sensible. And like any good investment - you may start small, but it will pay in great dividends if invested long term.


  1. GREAT article! I actually created a diet plan that's VERY detailed and easy to follow at Half Meal Habit. Thank you again!

  2. oh I love this and going to try this!!!