Plate size and shape.
When did you last choose a dinner set because of its size?
It’s hard to believe but choosing a plate that’s just 2inches bigger can add at least 200kcal extra to your meal, over a year this could add an extra 10kgs (1½ stone) to your waistline. Oval and square plates which have become increasingly popular are also guilty of helping us pile more onto our plates.
Reverse the trend, look for a 9inch round plate and fill at least one third with vegetables or salad. Any smaller and you’ll find it hard to fit on enough vegetables to provide essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Share bags…who’s sharing?
You may have heard of the popcorn experiment. People given bigger boxes of popcorn at the cinema ate more than those given smaller boxes. This phenomenon relates to other bags of snacks as well, such as share bags of crisps and chocolate. Check out the difference in calories, fat and sugar below:
Regular 40g chocolate bar: 200kcal, 20g sugar, 10g fat
Share bag of chocolate buttons: 600kcal, 60g sugar, 33g fat
25g single bag of crisps: 130kcal, 8g fat
Share bag of crisps: 750kcal, 45g fat
Mini versions of cakes and chocolate bars have all the taste and usually only half the amount of fat, sugar and calories. Don’t cut things out, combat the portion size effect by going mini.
It’s a bargain.
We all like a good bargain, when it comes to buying food we are more likely to choose a larger pack size or request larger portions when we eat out because its better value for money. But our soft spot for a deal is driving us to buy bigger and therefore eat more than we otherwise would have.
This begs the question. If we save a few pence buying bigger but then spend £5 per week trying to lose weight, is it really a bargain after all?
This sounds like a very technical term but in reality it’s simple. When we buy an item of food that’s individually packaged such as a pizza, pie or a ready meal, we see that as the portion we should eat even if we pick the larger size. It’s human nature but it can have a huge effect on the portions we eat, especially if you lead a busy lifestyle and eat convenience foods on a regular basis. Fight the portion size effect of packaged food by opting for the regular size.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you are more likely to choose larger portions of foods you perceive to be healthy. Unfortunately big food companies tap into our love of healthier alternatives and some foods aren’t what they seem. Think ‘healthy biscuits’. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Fill up with larger portions of foods naturally low in calories such as fruit and vegetables.
Portion control isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. For more help with healthy portion sizes check out www.spoonit.co.uk for portion sizes made simple.
5 of the best budget busting buy
The question ‘how often do you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep?’ might be more important than you think.
We all know that after a good night’s sleep life seems better. The sun shines brighter, we see things clearer, and we even have more patience for that annoying person at work.
So it comes as no surprise that the uphill struggle of losing weight might be easier too, but scientists think it’s more complex than just the fact that less sleep makes us more likely to skip our exercise class.
Studies have shown that getting less than 6 hours sleep a night on a regular basis changes the level of hormones in our body, for example it increases the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) and decreases the amount of growth hormone we produce, which has been linked to a bigger waist size. It also makes us less sensitive to hormones such as insulin. To compensate our body produces more of that hormone. As insulin favours the storage of fat, this isn’t a good thing if we are trying to lose weight.
Poor sleep has also been shown to alter hormones that control our appetite, specifically ghrelin which increases our hunger levels and leptin which helps signal that we are full.
Chronic sleep loss may also affect the reward centres in our brain, making us more likely to crave energy dense foods. In studies sleep restricted people have been shown to prefer carbohydrate-rich foods, they were also more likely to eat more over the course of the day. This makes sense as we tend to seek food (or sugary drinks and coffee) for energy when we are tired.
Combine this with the fact that if we are tired we are less likely to exercise and are also more likely to sit down for longer periods of the day, so we burn less energy.
Sleep deprivation which is defined as less than 6 hours sleep per night or poor quality sleep (which happens if you wake up frequently during the night) causes hormone imbalances, increases cravings for unhealthy foods, alters your appetite so you are more likely to feel hungry and less satisfied after meals, reduces the energy you burn and negatively affects your natural circadian rhythms. All in all not good news if you are trying to lose weight.
What to do…
If you are burning the candle at both ends and you have the power to prioritise sleep over other things in life, put on your PJs and get a few early nights. You can still be a rock star and go to bed at 9pm
If you dream of earlier nights but you work shifts or you have little people or other life commitments that mean a good night’s sleep is impossible, then hopefully this article helps to explain why weight loss can be so difficult, be kind to yourself and try not to beat yourself up. Getting out for some fresh air, regular meals and even trying a mindfulness app can all help to improve your general wellbeing and may improve sleep quality.
Sometimes medical problems can cause poor quality sleep (such as obstructive sleep apnoea), so for some people a trip to the GP may help.
For more tips and advice go to www.sleepcouncil.org.uk
Are we destined to live on veggetti forever?
Low carb diets have been around for many years, made popular in the 1990s by the Atkins diet but is cutting out carbs the only way to lose weight? Are we destined to live on cauliflower rice, celeriac chips and veggetti forever?
While we can’t deny a low carb diet will cause weight loss in the short term (mostly due to a loss of water), the problem is 99.9% of people can’t maintain a truly low carb diet in the long term. This means you lose weight, and then regain it plus more. You enter the world of yo-yo dieting, which some people think is more damaging to you emotionally and physically than just maintaining the same weight (even if that weight is more than you would like it to be).
Going on a low carb diet is like an extreme version of lent, it’s not just bread, rice, potatoes and pasta that you have to give up. It’s cakes, biscuits, crisps, pizza and beer. Fruit and dairy are restricted as well.
Eating out and socialising becomes a challenge instead of fun
Eating the same foods at home becomes boring and monotonous
So it’s no wonder people try and fail to keep to such a rigid and restrictive diet.
Focus on your portion size and eat perfectly portioned carbs, which has loads of advantages:
Portion control isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.
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The Carb Spoon®
The Carb Spoon® may only be just a spoon, but it could change the way you look at carbs when losing weight. If you are looking for a healthy alternative to low carb, then read on…
The Carb spoon is sold alongside a detailed booklet with a personalised guide to how many carbs to eat based on your gender, weight, age and activity levels. It’s a simple way to measure, cook and portion the right amount of carbs to kick start your weight loss.
You can use it to
It’s perfect carb control made simple https://www.spoonit.co.uk/store/p1/the-carb-spoon
A review of The carb Spoon from a previous low carb dieter
‘For around 2 years I’d been on a low carb diet and been taught carbs are the enemy. For the first few months I saw success but soon dropped into old habits and cheated. This continued until I decided to scrap this diet and just try healthy eating. The carb spoon has taught me how to portion my carbs properly and that you can enjoy carbs as part of a healthy diet. I suddenly had more energy as well. Spoonit allows me to still enjoy meals out with friends and have a variety of foods previously taboo in my dieting world, Spoonit isn’t a diet, just a way of life for me now’
Are you feeling satisfied?
You’ve started losing weight with all the best intentions. You’re on your 10th chicken salad this week, it’s big, it should be filling. So why does it leave you feeling empty?
Although eating large portions of healthy foods such as salad, vegetables, fruit and lean protein can help you lose weight, after time you soon become bored. Eating becomes a chore not an enjoyment and when you lose the enjoyment for the food you’re eating, it suddenly doesn’t satisfy you anymore. Here lies the problem with diets and eating plans that restrict the types of foods you eat.
What’s the alternative?
What foods do you enjoy eating when you’re not losing weight? Is there a healthier way to prepare or cook them? Is there a lower calorie alternative that still tastes just as good? Making small changes like this means you’re more likely to stick with what you are doing long term as you are still eating a variety of foods you enjoy.
In the modern world our portion sizes are increasing due to lots of different factors, some of which are out of our control. Going back to basics and learning about healthy portion sizes can give you a lot more food freedom and less food guilt when trying to lose weight. Eating foods in the right amount is key for long term weight loss success because you still eat foods that you enjoy and those that satisfy you. Carbs are an example of foods that people try to cut out while losing weight but if eaten in the right amount, they won’t stop you losing weight. Try using a product like The Carb Spoon®
Herbs and spices help to add flavour to the same old bland dish. A good example is to cook roasted vegetables with herbs rather than just having them boiled (again!).
Try something new
The internet is full of healthy tasty recipes or ask friends and family for new ideas to keep your food new, interesting and above all satisfying.
Portion sizes have gradually increased over the past 50 years. There’s a variety of reasons for this and most of them are beyond our control and have therefore gone unnoticed. Examples are:
In a bid to discover the best dieting regime, with huge debate over the optimal balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs), have we lost sight of one of the most important factors influencing our weight, how much we eat.
Abundant availability of food and larger portion sizes are aspects of our environment that potentially contribute to overeating. Numerous studies support the fact that when people are served larger portions, their overall calorie intake is increased at that meal, what is less clear is whether we are able to self-regulate and compensate for this at a later point in time.
In the modern world, our portions are being increased from every direction. Plate sizes have increased, everyday foods brought in the supermarket (e.g a slice of bread) have got bigger and portion sizes when we eat out are spiralling upwards. It’s fair to say our chronic exposure to larger portion sizes is starting to change our view of what is ‘normal’ to maintain a healthy weight.
The British Heart Foundation commissioned research into portion sizes in 2013 (1) and found ‘there is no meaningful understanding of what is an appropriate portion size, with portions of some foods doubling’.
Our lack of perception over what is a healthy portion is not down to ignorance but a lack of simple practical information, which is hard to believe in 2017. Government information on portion sizes has not been updated for over 20 years, which has given food manufacturers free reign on defining portions, leading to inconsistent packaging information.
Google healthy portion sizes and you may be faced with some pictures of everyday objects to represent healthy portions of different types of foods but how does this translate into everyday living? As a dietitian I would be hard pushed to tell if I was eating a tennis ball sized portion of rice. Portion sizes will also be different for people depending on their gender, age and activity levels and this basic information is non-existent in most portion guides.
Reversing the trend of our supersized portions can begin at home, with smaller crockery and simple measuring utensils. A recent study of people with obesity showed that using portion control tools such as tableware, portion pots and serving spoons was an effective strategy, which was rated acceptable and easy to use by participants (2).
So if we start to focus more on how much we eat, rather than what, could we reverse the trends in obesity?
It’s an interesting thought.