Friday, September 21, 2007

Go Figure ~ Downsize Me

Since moving to Okinawa, Japan I have learned some valuable insights into portion control. It all began when we arrived in Osaka, Japan after a long international flight from Hawaii. On the flight we were served these interesting looking Japanese bento boxes filled with seaweed, fish, a cracker and some rice. Needless to say, my American family was h.u.n.g.ry. when we arrived in Osaka for our layover. We searched for something familiar, something comforting among the restaurants in the airport. We rounded a corner and there before us stood the Golden arches! My children cheered and we eagerly sat ourselves down at a table. I went up to the counter to order the usual fries and cheeseburgers yet I noticed something keenly different. When the server handed us our food it was micro-sized! The drinks were what we in America know as the small child's cup, the fries were the size of Happy Meal fries and the cheeseburger was about the size of a deck of cards! hungry boys were not impressed.

Portion control. It seems that the Okinawans have something here. Their food is served in very small portions and they eat only until they feel "hara hachi bu" which means they eat until 80% full. This is a wonderful concept! If you are like me, I often overeat and then feel sluggish and tired as my body digests all the goodies. I love to eat and sweets are a major problem for me.

Most recently, I decided to overhaul my eating habits. Though we are in Japan, we use the American commissary (grocery store) and have access to most American foods. So, I decided I was going to try some portion control techniques as one way to reduce my calories and aid my weight loss efforts. I am not a fan of diets and find that if I try a diet, I end up craving the very foods I am not supposed to eat!

Some of the portion control ideas I am using include using a salad plate as my main dish for all meals. I rarely notice a difference and my portions are automatically downsized! I also fill my plate 1/2 full of vegetables and then the remaining with protein and a whole grain carb. Another trick I have found is that eating one cup of clear soup (often made earlier in the week or from a can) about fifteen minutes before my meal, reduces my hunger. I use my hands as guides to the amount of food I am eating so that I am not relying on measuring cups or any other complicated gadget. And, the big one....learning to stop eating when I am not full anymore. I am reteaching myself to stop eating when I am no longer hungry, not to eat until I am "full." I have learned that I feel healthier and have more energy if I stop eating before my brain tells my stomach that I am full. This was a HUGE point for me as I often ate until either my plate was empty or until I was just plain stuffed!

I do believe this is the key to weight loss. When combined with daily exercise, we will see weight loss that lasts! So, ladies, continue drinking your water, exercising and making choices that fuel your mind and body. Not only will the scale budge a few pounds, you will feel healthier, have more energy and motivation for you and for your family ~ which is so important as a Multi-Tasking mother!


Kristie said...

That was interesting reading your story about the McDonalds incident. I can imagine what my teenagers would have thought my goodness we would have had to order 3 meals for each of them!!!!

I have been working on downsizing my portions and excercising as well I find your suggestions helpful!! Thank you.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I agree with you completely. When I went on SlimFast a few years back, I was amazed at "how little" I really needed when I was eating the right foods! It was a huge lesson for me and now I have a better idea of the portions I should have.

Interesting story about Japan!

Lori said...

Great post.
I agree totally. Now I just need to put it into action.
I am working on the exercising part.
I need to downsize more.

weavermom said...

I've done the salad plate thing - it does work! It's amazing the tricks we can play on ourselves. :)

I'll have to start using some of the other tips you've share - I especially liked your comment about eating until you are no longer hungry rather than until you are full. I think this is very wise.

I remember a funny thing I once heard on the radio when driving to my granny's house for Thanksgiving dinner. The dj said "Eat until you're full, not until you're tired!" he he :)

Rae said...

I had no idea that Japan was like that. No wonder they are all so small and fit. I will have to start using the salad plate idea. I know my problem is portion control. Thanks for the insight.


Michelle said...

oh one hundred percent it's portion control.I have a bad tooth that I'm getting out soon and so junk food is out for me & the weight is coming off. ;=)Lol.I also need to go to the gym or fitness classes too.. Thanks for a great post.

diana said...

nice post. portion sizes have gotten out of control. at home, i only fill my plate once. i never go for seconds. at restaurants, i've learned that i can usually eat about half of what is served and take home the rest. which works out nicely - 2 meals for the price of one. of course, i'm not talking about fast food. there you have to decide for yourself what the right amount of food to eat is.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to do some of the things you are trying to do. I've been trying to dish up smaller amounts the first time. Then something I try to practice
(but don't always follow through) is to try and wait about 20 minutes or so before getting any more to eat. This way I can more accurately assess if I really am still hungry or not. If I truly am still hungry then I'll only get a little more. I try to drink plenty of water. I've read that it is better to eat smaller amounts of food more often during the day than eating bigger amounts less often.

I should try using smaller plates more often.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Tarrah said...

What a great post! I have also been using a smaller plate to control my portions. It's amazing how you don't even think about how much your puttin on your plate, you just automatically want to fill it. I have also tried to make my self look at my portion and think about how it will look in my stomach :) I tend to put some of the food back LOL

Ruth said...

This was a great post. I, too, like to eat and eat plenty. I've recently reduced my calories, and with that, my portions. I think you are exactly right about it all!

MorningSong said...

Thanks for sharing your unique story! It is amazing how large our meals are in the US!!


tAnYeTTa said...

very interesting! good luck on your weight loss journey. it's so much fun!

tumbleweeds said...

During my "thin" days I was good about all this type of stuff, portion control, exercising ect ect, thank you again for this reminder, I post my updated stats on the blog, your more than all to check it out.