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Portion Control - Educated Eating for Sustained Weight Loss

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Dieting methods over the last two decades have gone through many phases. Twenty years ago calorie counting was the way to lose weight, that was followed by the F-Plan where people were told to fill up with fibre, and eventually the advice was to count fat grams.

Nowadays we are much more nutritionally educated and understand that it is a balanced diet, not a faddy diet, which is crucial for a healthy mind and body.

Many dieticians in the U.S. and the U.K. are using the concept 'Portion Control' as the key to losing weight and keeping it off. Portion control works by educating people on how to manage their own eating habits in a healthy and balanced way, particularly monitoring carbohydrate and protein intake. A very successful method of helping dieters manage their own eating habits as it teaches them to visually balance the food on their plate.

The "New American Plate" model as established by The American Institute of Cancer and the corresponding "The Balance of Good Health" model promoted by the British Dietetics Association model are pictorial representations that show the proportions of food groups that represent a healthy, balanced diet. In the U.K. The model was developed Department of Health, the Health Education Authority (HEA), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Using this system health professionals can teach people to visually balance the food on their plate by composing their meals of 1/3 (or more) Fruit and Vegetables, 1/3 (or more) whole grains and potatoes, about 2/15 animal protein or alternatives, 1/15 fatty food & Sugar and 2/15 milk & dairy.

While balance is good, it is not enough to lose weight. In order to lose weight one must eat less. Correspondingly, the British Dietetics Association have established portion size guidelines for female dieters being between 55g and 85g of protein and 85g - 110g of carbohydrates and male dieters require between 110g-140g of protein and 140g-170g of carbohydrates.

This principle of balance and reducing portion size forms the basis of many dieting strategies. For many dieters though, the problem arises when it becomes necessary to have to weigh out portion sizes. The added complexity and 'fiddlyness' at meal times means people are more likely to give up. However, with the 'portion control' concept people are visually taught how to monitor their food intake. Taking away the need to weigh food makes it a more natural and adaptable process. It is education and simplicity which is the key to the success of the 'Portion Control' method of slimming.

There are a number of products on the market to aid this process. They provide visual boundaries indicating portion sizes that correspond to the weights set out in the American Plate Model and the British Dietetic model.

This way of dieting is successful for many people because it can be directly incorporated into daily life without weighing food or counting calories. This helps makes it a long-term and sustainable way of dieting which becomes more of a lifestyle than a one off fad.


By Nicola Snell
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