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How to eat just about enough food

Food Serving size plate of foodWith a conscious relationship to the serving size of food you eat, you can avoid eating too much or too little. Photo: Kjell Merok @ Nofima

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How to eat your fill of food only

How much food do we really need, and how can we avoid eating too much? Here are some useful information and tips that can make it easier to eat good food in reasonable amounts.

There is a great focus on “yes” or “no” and “healthy” or “unhealthy” food. Whether some food is healthy or unhealthy depends on who eats it, what needs the person has, and not least how much one eats of it. All food can be unhealthy if you eat too much of it, or if you replace other food for it.

Some of those who diet, fail because they radically change their eating habits and fail to maintain the changes over time, or drop food that they are very fond of. Then it can be a better strategy to indulge in all kinds of food but to limit, for example, calorie-rich food to tiny portions. Such strategies allow one to enjoy food and maintain variation, even if one watches what to eat. Limiting sweets to one day in the week is a good example – then one is still allowed to eat candy, but limits when and how often it occurs.

What is the correct portion for me?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to assessing what is a proper portion is that the nutrient content of food varies a lot. What makes a reasonable portion size thus varies greatly from one product to another.

For example, 100 g of carrots contains 36 kcal (150 kJ), while 100 g of peanuts contains in excess of 600 kcal (2,500 kJ). This allows people to have knowledge of food in order to determine how much is sensible to eat at one sitting of a particular product, such as coming out of a larger consumer pack. Although there is a recommended portion size printed on the packaging, there are many who do not read this – and fewer still who actually weigh up the recommended quantity.

There are probably also many who do not have a relation to calorie counting and do not quite know how much their daily needs are. Several diets have the weighting and logging of food as important start-up activities, as it gives the person dietary awareness about nutritional content and sensible serving sizes, and how much food, for example, 50 grams actually constitutes in terms of energy.

If you are unsure of your energy needs, you can find guidance on the Cost Planner website, which is a tool provided by the Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

Difficult to calculate meals

Compound food products such as dinner dishes can be even more difficult to assess than pure products or raw materials, especially if you do not prepare the food yourself – since there are products that consist of many different raw materials. Research from the United States shows that restaurant guests underestimate fat and calorie content in restaurant menus – The food contained about twice as much fat and calories as the test persons thought to be the case.

A large focus on “healthy” products can also be counterproductive by choosing to eat more food that is perceived as healthy. Nuts or honey are calorie-rich examples of this misconception.

Our brain also causes us to have trouble assessing what is a suitable serving because it has difficulty in evaluating the volume of geometric forms. For example, we supply smaller drinks in tall, slender glasses than in short, wide glasses, because the amount of liquid in a stocky glass looks less than in a slender glass.

Consider serving size before eating

It is easy to “hit the wall” when eating on the sofa in front of the TV. You move the consciousness away from eating and onto what is happening on the screen. Then it is even more difficult to control yourself and have an overview of how much you have eaten and consider serving size. A practical tip is not to bring the entire bag with a product to the cosy chair, but or to pour chips or candy into a small bowl before cosying up. Then you have the opportunity to assess what is a reasonable serving in advance of focusing on your favourite show.

Likewise, it may be good to serve dinner on plates and not place serving platters, pots and pans on the table. Then you do the serving assessment before you sit down and start talking. If cookware is on the table, it is easy to be tempted to replenish several times. Then it is more difficult to control the overall food intake.

How to limit calories from the supper?

If you want to limit your calorie intake at supper, a good strategy is to start the meal off with a salad or vegetables, which is commonplace in many other countries. This means that you are partially satiated by vegetables. Another strategy is to fill half the plate with lettuce or vegetables first, as this normally is low-calorie – as long as one limits the use of dressing, that is – and then add rice/pasta/potato and meat or fish afterwards.

The size of dinner plates has increased considerably in recent decades. Before, dinner plates of 25 cm were not uncommon, while the ordinary diameter is now from 27 cm upwards. The size of the rim on plates also has something to say, as it affects the effective size of the plate. When you have larger plates, or plates without rims, it is easy to take more, which means that you are presented with a larger serving, which one wishes to finish off. A strategy is, therefore, to reduce the size or be aware of the diameter when buying dinnerware.

Calorie-rich foods should also not be left at the front, neither in the office nor on the kitchen counter, as it is tempting. If the products are not prominent, one is not constantly reminded that the offer is just an arm’s length away. food that you should eat more of, such as fruit or cut vegetables, should draw the attention.

Eats more from large communal bowls

Research shows that a large serving of food and non-alcoholic beverages make people eat or drink more and thus increase their calorie intake. We eat more chips or candy when these are served in large bowls or bags, even when sharing between several persons.

It has also been shown that self-control is an important element when eating, but how self-control affects our intake depends on the situation. For example, if we have a large bowl of chips that we share with others, it is still easy to eat too much, although others are watching how much you eat. Since the serving was initially that large, it is socially acceptable to consume larger amounts, because it is still enough left for the rest. Thus, you will probably eat less dessert if it is presented as serving units than if you supply yourself from a large bowl, and you will take fewer candies from small than large bowls. 

 

  © Nofima / #Norway Today

 

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