I had the opportunity to attend a food talk with Mark Bittman, writer of all things ‘foodly’. It was to discuss his latest book, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes.
It’s simple really. Eat less meat. He’s not a vegetarian; he’s not dogmatic about healthy food. He just reversed the proportions of what he was eating and discovered it made him a bit healthier. Well, a lot healthier, actually.
I tend to get my rah-rah out when it comes to portions. I’m on the less is more side of the equation. As a whole, Americans consume too much food and I strongly believe over-sized portions are to blame. If you’ve ever bought vintage tableware, you’d notice that the dinner plates are smaller (9”) than their modern versions. Today, eating off a 12” plate is the norm. And the food is piled high.
Socially, we’re led to believe that more=value. Think Costco. (aka ‘buy more, eat more’)
Large portions are everywhere. It bothers me how much restaurants serve. Personally, I can’t even make it through the children’s meal without leftovers. My 8 year old eats more than I do if given the opportunity. He likes to eat. I like that about him, but I’m a mom and sometimes I have to pull back the food. Trust me; he’s getting plenty to eat!
Most kids have no problem with starches and will gladly eat a meal comprised of 50% garlic bread. Other kids are meat, no veggies kind of folks. It’s our job to create a better balance. It is possible to create healthier eating habits at the family table.
So what is the right balance?
According to the USDA and the ADA
- ½ vegetables
- ¼ starches/carbs
- ¼ protein/meat
Ten Ways to Stop Overfeeding
- No serving dishes on the table. It only encourages over eating.
- Eat less meat. I know it’s hard to believe, but 1 pound of meat feeds a family of four.
- Leave the table a little hungry. Your body will train itself to eat less.
- Cut down on salt. Studies show that we have a hard time saying no to salty food.
- Cook! When you cook, you can control the portions and the ingredients.
- Keep it unprocessed. Fresh, simple ingredients nourish us instead of addict us. This week, try to get rid of 3 processed foods in your kitchen. Start with boxed macaroni!
- Eat more vegetables. It’s hard to over eat fresh vegetables. Your stomach will be full long before the calories have exceeded their limit.
- No seconds. I know, sometimes you want to lick the serving dish. Try to refrain from loading up on seconds. Give it ten minutes. If you really want more, limit it to a spoonful and not another whole plate.
- Use smaller plates. Try 9” dinner plates.
- Get organized! Plan out meals using good vegetable-meat-starch-fat ratios.
I’m not talking about anything drastic. It’s possible to combat over feeding and overeating by simply changing a few dinner table habits. If you can think of a good reason not to, I’m open to suggestions. Now, if I could only stop at one chocolate chip cookie!