Food Prep Friday: Phase 1 Portion and Frequency

We’ve grown up in a society that has touted having three square meals a day as a healthy lifestyle. What exactly does that mean? How do we determine what makes a meal square? How much food do we need at this square meal? And why am I hungry in between the meal times? Is this still how we should eat?

Have you noticed how the serving sizes of things have grown out of proportion? I noticed a man at a gas station filling up a “mug” the size of a small keg at the fountain drinks. Seriously this cup was at least 2 gallons. Really? Who needs to drink 2 gallons of Dr. Pepper?! I can see where we are getting mixed signals and having difficulty choosing correct portions.

Now, you and I both know that the appetizer platter that comes to us at a restaurant is meant to be shared, but the size of your meal should be a serving, right? Well, not always. Some of those meals have enough food on them for three to four servings! How are you supposed to know when to quit?

A few years ago, @richarddubay and I followed the “Body For Life” plan. The plan is fantastic and a great place to start for people brand new to health and fitness. (check out the “Eating For Life” cookbook, it’s still my favorite!) Anyway, Bill Phillips gave the very simple guideline of portion control. I’ve used this for years and it’s a great way to keep on track in a restaurant. Your plate should consist of three sections, 1 protein that is the size of the palm of your hand (no fingers), 1 veggie that is the size of your whole hand (flat), and then a portion of carbs that measure roughly the size of your closed fist (this is not a lot of noodles people!). Now, this does not always equal out to accurate caloric measures, so bring your measuring cups if you are counting calories.

Those of you who are on strict carb diets, this is not going to be entirely accurate either. Remember that veggies are also “technically” carbs, but slower digesting in comparison to breads, grains, and fruits.

Now what about those three meals? Our bodies require fuel to work. If you ran your car on fumes, would it run efficiently? If you tried to push it as far as you could before getting gas, what would happen? Right, it would run out of fuel and stop moving. Your body will do this. Ever experience that 3:00 sluggish slump in the day? That’s a lull in your metabolism. It would be best to eat every two and a half to three hours to keep your “engine” running smoothly. And whatever you do DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST!!! Seriously people, this is important. Eating breakfast gives a jump start to your metabolism. It wakes your body up and says, “Wow! I have work to do!” and starts your body’s consumption of energy. (that by the way, is what calories are)

Okay, so all of that brings us to the conclusion of Phase 1 of helping your family eat healthy. Let’s go over the big points.

  1. Eat breakfast!
  2. Eat every 2-3 hours
  3. Your meal should consist of 1 protein (size of your palm), 1 veggie (flat open hand), and 1 carb (closed fist)

Start with this first. If you add too much change to your family all at once they will revolt. I promise. Small changes done over a couple weeks, 21 days, will be much more welcome and not so overwhelming.

Heather Dubay