Ten Ways to Stop Overfeeding Your Family

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

  1. No serving dishes on the table. It only encourages over eating.
  2. Eat less meat. I know it’s hard to believe, but 1 pound of meat feeds a family of four.
  3. Leave the table a little hungry. Your body will train itself to eat less.
  4. Cut down on salt. Studies show that we have a hard time saying no to salty food.
  5. Cook! When you cook, you can control the portions and the ingredients.
  6. 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!
  7. Eat more vegetables. It’s hard to over eat fresh vegetables. Your stomach will be full long before the calories have exceeded their limit.
  8. 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.
  9. Use smaller plates. Try 9″ dinner plates.
  10. 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!

Published on: July 09, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Melissa Lanz

Melissa is the founder of The Fresh 20 an award winning meal planning service, the creator of the Family Food Summit, an online conversation with food industry leaders, about feeding our families and the author of The Fresh 20 Cookbook.

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