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Nutritious Meals – Finding Healthy Balance

My last blog was about making healthy food choices in 2015 with an emphasis on portion control.  This post continues along these lines, as greater awareness allows us to make healthier, more satisfying choices for either maintaining or losing weight.

As a registered dietitian in private practice for 10 years, the majority of my physician referred clients came to me with a diagnosis of obesity, overweight, or type 2 diabetes.

I would like to offer some valuable, simple, and straightforward suggestions that I shared with my clients over the years.

1. Use smaller plates to help control portion sizes, calories, and overeating. Having a large plate full of food will most likely lead to eating the entire thing — and that’s often more food than necessary. An option is to have two plate sizes. If you’re eating very healthy food opt for the bigger plate, if it’s a less healthy meal, use the smaller plate.

2. Use a measuring cup to determine how much liquid your various drinking cups and glasses actually hold. Cups and glasses come in many different sizes and this can sometimes be misleading. A short glass can sometimes hold as much liquid as a tall glass. A tall glass can sometimes hold more or less liquid than we think.

3. Use non­-see through containers for storing high calorie snacks, binge foods, and leftovers. If you are likely to open the cupboard or refrigerator and get hit in the face with something you just can’t resist, (the candy, cookies, or snacks you keep on hand for when company comes, for example,) storing these items in a non-see through container might be just the solution.

4. Go out to enjoy your favorite high calorie foods and desserts rather than bringing them home. For example, go out for ice cream or cake, occasionally, instead of bringing it in to the house. Although it will cost you more, you are deliberately making it less convenient for yourself to access these foods, which you would likely overeat if you invite them to live in your kitchen.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

5. Certain colors have been shown to diminish appetite. Gray, brown, black and blue are all colors that have a tendency to decrease appetite. Red and yellow tend to have the opposite effect. It is recommended that those looking to maintain a healthy calorie intake buy plates that are crafted in gray, brown, black or blue as opposed to red or yellow.

6. Fruit juices contain a lot of calories from natural sugar, even if no sugar is added. This is why I always recommend avoiding fruit juices whenever possible and consuming fresh fruit instead. Fresh fruit contains fiber which is filling, and because we have to chew it, fresh fruit has much more satiety value than fruit juice. Whenever possible, I recommend calorie free beverages, water in particular.

7. Don’t skip meals. Eat every 3-5 hours if possible. Three meals a day or three smaller meals and two small snacks, for example, is beneficial for the efficient burning of calories. When we skip meals, we tend to overeat when mealtime comes, and our metabolism also tends to be slower because we skipped a meal.

8. When reading food labels, make sure to look at the serving size since nutrition information is given per serving. Look for calories, grams and percent of fat and sugar, and milligrams of sodium. If you plan to consume more than a single serving in one sitting, make sure to do the math.

Please leave a comment, ask a question, and/or share the tips that work for you below.

Bon Appetit!

35 Responses to Nutritious Meals – Finding Healthy Balance

  • patamsden says:

    Hi Michele

    These are great tips. I has no idea plate color could make such a difference.

  • tuhinmech says:

    Boiled and raw food works best for me. Over the last 1 year, I have somehow developed a habit of taking fresh, green, healthy and clean food.
    I have a question: is it not good to consume hot tea or milk? Does elevated temperature effect our health? Nice informative post!

  • Jason @ TheButlerJournal.com says:

    I’m in the process of eating better. Thanks for the tips.

  • I love these ideas on how to help us make healthier choices. I love the idea of not bringing tempting items into the house at all. So simple but effective!

  • Andy says:

    I drink a lot of fruit juice – cranberry and grapefruit are my favorites (I’m into the sour stuff) – and I won’t be quitting this habit any time soon. Having said this, I have a question for you. Given a choice between a glass of Vitamin C-containing cranberry juice and a can of Diet Coke, would you actually choose the latter?

    One more point, regarding going out for ice cream vs. eating it at home:
    When you go out for ice cream, you’re paying not just for the ice cream but also for an experience, and that experience is likely to be more fun than eating ice cream at home would be, so I would disagree that going out is the more expensive option.

    • Hi Andy, I find your remarks interesting. I am referring to water in lieu of juice, not diet soda. In fact, I enjoy water with lemon or cucumber slices and find it quite flavorful. In addition, I am referring to money when I use the term, ‘more expensive option.’

  • Hi Michele, great tips. I definitely agree with the smaller plate theory. I always feel so deprived when I’m trying to cut back and have the normal sized dinner plate with a tiny amount of food in the middle. So much better with the smaller plate even if it is just an illusion. :). I’m off to paint my kitchen gray now. Lol

  • William Rusho says:

    I like the idea of going out to get high calorie snack instead of having them at home. Anything, to make it a little more difficult to get a high calorie snack, would be beneficial.

  • All good tips, Michele. I can’t keep snacks at home because I’ll eat them all. I know other people have the discipline to eat only one of those 90-calorie chocolate ice cream bars but I’ll eat the entire box of pops! Best to not buy them at all. As you say, save your guilty pleasures for when you eat out and can’t ask for second helpings.

  • Hi Michele

    This is a great tip for eating healthy. Just what I need for the year. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tim says:

    I completely agree with the non-see through containers for that food we love but should eat in absolute moderation. Great article Michele.

  • Eve Koivula says:

    Brilliant post! The only thing I would add is that when you “feel like eating something” have a glass of water first. Most cases you’re just thirsty.

  • andleeb says:

    Very nice post. I have big problem, when I see some snacks I can not resist and eat a lot. I am always moving around so I do not have weight problem still but , you never know. This tip will help me a lot from now on.
    I am amazed to know that some colors reduce appetite.
    I have a daughter and she is not much into eating. How we can improve eating habits of kids.
    Thank you for great suggestions and tips.

  • Ken Dowell says:

    A lot of ideas here I’ve never thought of, like using non see-through containers. I’m pretty good about a lot of these things when I’m at home but tend to lose the plot outside of home, especially when I’m travelling and eating all meals in restaurants.

  • Thank you for the great tips on healthy eating. I find it helpful shopping at farmers markets then I can eat according to the seasons. I also cook fruit and vegetables more in the winter months than in the summer months.

  • Great suggestions that people who have not yet gotten into healthy eating should follow.

  • jacquiegum says:

    Great tips! I had never thought to go out for treat instead of bringing them home! That one is particularly useful. Thankfully, when I get the urge I can drop by a bakery that sells cake by the slice or I will get just one cupcake:)

  • Phoenicia says:

    Brilliant tips!

    At present I eat all my meals from side plates in order to maintain my weight. I allowed myself to indulge at Christmas but am now back on the bandwagon!

    Diets do not work for me. The thought of restricting any food makes me feel uncomfortable. With smaller portions I can eat all foods but in moderation.

    I agree that fruit juice is advertised as being healthy when in fact it is loaded with sugar. I mix mine with water or drink diluted drinks.

  • Erica says:

    Hi Michele. Good points. I like what you said about juice. So many people look at juice as a “health food” and don’t realize that it is missing all important fiber. It breaks my heart when I see parents give their toddler bottle after bottle of juice thinking they are being healthy. I’d never heard of the plate color concept so very interesting.

  • I went on a prescribed meal plan last year and lost 14 pounds. All of those suggestions were made, except the color of the plates. I am not sure I buy into that one 🙂 I would add – drinking a lot of water, especially when you wake up – a room temperature big glass before doing anything really helps to stir the metabolism. I am not on the meal plan anymore, have gained back about six pounds, but am happy with my weight. All good reminders – thanks for sharing them.

    • Hi Laurie. Yes, drinking a lot of water definitely helps. With regard to the color of the plates, it seems that greater contrast between the color of the plate and the color of your food, results in smaller serving sizes needed in order to feel satisfied, according to some studies. Of course, exercise is important as well. The most important thing is being happy with yourself, regardless of your weight. I’m glad you are happy with your weight.

  • Donna Janke says:

    Good tips. Interesting point about the colour of plates. I have brown plates and I have white and blue plates at home and I’m not sure they’ve diminished my appetite, but I will pay more attention to plate colour and my reaction to it.

    • Hi Donna, it would be best to eat brown foods in plates that are not brown and white foods in plates that are not white. It seems that greater contrast between the color of the plate and the color of your food, results in smaller serving sizes needed in order to feel satisfied.

  • lenie5860 says:

    Hi Michele, I’ve known about a lot of these healthy eating tips but I had never knew about number 5 – that colours can play a role. I found that extremely interesting and is certainly something I will be paying attention to. Healthy eating is a bit of a challenge, isn’t it, but well worth the extra effort. Thanks for sharing your know-how.

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