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How Much Is Too Much: 12 Strategies for Portion Control

We’ve all heard that portion control is really important for healthy eating. In fact, it may help enhance weight loss. But it’s hard. How do you measure a portion size anyway? It’s hard to tell how much one cup is. And even harder in this era of super-sized foods.

You could try visual aids.

But that’s still a little difficult to remember.

We’ve made portion size really easy to track on The Eatery. First, tap on the portion icon. It’ll bring you to the screen of a plate. See that irresistible white pulsing circle? Touch and drag it to indicate portion size. Rather than measuring in cups, its a lot easier to have a general indicator of portion size relative to the amount of food on your plate. Have you tried this function?

Tap on Portions

Touch and drag the white pulsing circle.

But although its easy to track portions on The Eatery, I still find myself having an inordinate amount of food sometimes. So I’ve been looking for simple ways to practise portion control. Here’s what I found. The best part? It’s really not that hard.


Small servings
Try using smaller plates, bowls, forks and spoons for your meals. You think you’re eating more because your plate seems fuller.

See how plate size makes a difference?

I was surprised to discover that the yogurt in a cup had way less calories than the yogurt in a bowl, even though the latter seems like a much smaller portion.

Credits: SnackSense

Divide snacks into smaller portions. Portion that big bag of chips into 12 ZipLoc bags, so you won’t find yourself finishing an entire bag in one sitting.

Wait 20 minutes before getting seconds That’s how long it takes to get full, so if you give yourself a “breather” you may realize you’re not so hungry for that second serving after all.

Leftovers? Divide them into small portions instead of one large container. It’s a lot easier to reheat the next time too.

Be a picky eater

Credits: Babble

Start your meal with a salad. It’ll keep you from overeating by curbing your appetite while giving you a sense of satiety sooner. Plus, all that nutrient goodness - fiber, vitamins and minerals in wholesome veggies. 



Make meat a side dish. By loading up on vegetables and healthy grains as the bulk of your meal, you’ll feel full sooner and get those extra nutrients. 



Eating out


Order an appetizer as an entree or split an entree with your dining partner. Restaurants usually have large portions, so decide how much you will eat and only eat that amount.



Separate half of the meal into a doggie bag. You’ll be less tempted, and you’ll get two meals for the price of one.



Stay away from Supersizing. Don’t get carried away with bigger portion sizes just because its a good deal for your wallet;  your waist and health will pay for it later.



At work


Don’t forget to eat. I know work can get crazy busy, but schedule meals and snacks so you don’t go hours without eating. You don’t want to put yourself at risk for overeating later.



Keep snacks a bit further away, like in your office pantry rather than on your desk. This reduces the likelihood of ‘desktop dining’, where you reach out for that snack every time you look over, even when you aren’t really hungry.

Always bring an afternoon snack with you. Prevent unhealthy temptations tempted, like donuts from the nearby cafe. Our recent satiety infographic suggests some easy snacking swaps that keep you fuelled throughout the day while being less likely to give you that dreaded energy crash later. Pro-tip: If you’re looking for a quick snack, grab an orange instead of that banana.

I know we promised a dozen, but here’s a bonus.



It’s okay to snack healthily.   It can help control calorie intake and cravings. You don’t want to deprive yourself of food, that’s only going to trigger over-eating later.



Any tips or tricks on controlling portion sizes? How does your workplace do it? Let us know in our comments section or on Twitter.

Recently we’ve been conducting quick chats to really understand our Eatery users better; what their health goals are, and what they like/don’t like about The Eatery. It’s been really exciting to learn how The Eatery plays a part in your lives. The feedback’s been really useful so far, especially as the team continues to work on improving The Eatery. This post is also dedicated to Susan Robbins (@susanbdot)

 who we got to know through another user, Jason Lesko (@RealSuperSized

Thank you for the great conversation and multitude of new perspectives!

Interested in helping out? We love hearing from our users, so drop me a note at cassandra@massivehealth.com

Friend Massive Health on facebook.
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Tracking your food isn’t easy, but The Eatery app makes it a lot simpler.

Eating right is hard. We make it easier.

Lots of apps tell you what you ate. Only the Eatery can tell you how you eat.

Download the latest version of The Eatery here!

Taking Pictures of Your Food Makes You Healthier

Guest post by Lauren AbdaLauren is a MS Candidate in Food Policy, Nutrition and Entrepreneurship at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She’ll be embarking on her fellowship at the World Health Organization soon.


At Massive, we do occasional brown bag lunches where we share the interesting things we’ve been involved in with the rest of the team.  We invited Lauren to share with us how behavior change could be used to promote healthy eating - specifically, how merely tracking your food could help you eat healthier.  We really wanted to share her talk with our Eatery users, so she’s kindly written a guest blog post for us. Enjoy!

Lauren at the Massive Health office

Capturing Health, One Picture at a Time
    How documenting what you eat can improve your health

Do you remember what you ate for lunch yesterday? How about two days ago? Chances are you were more concerned about satisfying your taste buds between meetings than maximizing your nutrition. Choosing what to eat has become a weighty decision influenced by friends, family, media, and the fit of your most recent shopping purchase. While these various influences can sway your immediate decision, they do not always contribute to lasting healthy behavior change.

Credits: 110pounds.com


A study published by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research discovered that participants who kept food journals lost twice as much weight as those who did not. Documenting what you eat requires accountability, can reveal patterns, and allows you to establish realistic health goals. Whether you want to eat healthier, feel better, or lose weight, recording what you eat can help you achieve your objective.


Establishing accountability - Eating is akin to listening. Some information goes in one ear and out the other. In the case of food, some meals go in with little recognition or recollection. Food journals force you to consider what you are eating, how much, when, and where. Tracking your consumption can highlight patterns and habits that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Identifying a problem - Repetition is often said to breed success. In the case of food, however repetition only breeds repetition. Before you know it, you’ve made a habit of eating a donut while reading through your emails every morning. This pattern may go unnoticed due to divided attention, deadlines, to-do lists, meetings, and deciding where to grab lunch. Recognizing such habits can reveal actionable health insights that you can begin to address.   

Achieving your goals - Identifying an unhealthy pattern is the first step in fixing it. While you might not have realize it, you developed a habit of buying a pastry with your morning coffee. However, when you brew coffee at home and bring it to work, you don’t eat a pastry. If you are trying to cut down on sweets, you might avoid buying a pastry, but you might avoid tempting yourself by purchasing coffee too. Making your morning cup at home can reduce your exposure to those tempting sweets and can help you stick to your ultimate goal of eating less sweets. 


 


The Eatery app created by the team at Massive Health incorporates the components of lasting health behavior change. Along with a beautiful user interface, the app allows its users to access the benefits of journaling while eliminating the additional step of actually writing it down. With a simple picture, one can log what they are eating, when, where, how much, rate its healthiness, and get feedback from other users. With this app, a picture really can say a thousand words about your health.

Friend Massive Health on facebook.
Follow @massivehealth on twitter.

Tracking your food isn’t easy, but The Eatery app makes it a lot simpler.

Eating right is hard. We make it easier.

Lots of apps tell you what you ate. Only the Eatery can tell you how you eat.

Download the latest version of The Eatery here!

Popcorn for Antioxidants and Chocolate for Weight Loss
In our recent infographic about the best snacks to fuel your day without giving you that dreaded sugar crash, we eschew potato chips for popcorn.
View the full infographic.
But even better, researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania have found that popcorn contains more antioxidants than other fruits and vegetables, per serving size. So yes, popcorn may just be the perfect snack food to keep you going.


They aren’t advocating that you replace all your fruit and vegetables, which are chock-full of other important nutrients, with popcorn. And obviously, drowning it in butter or sugary flavorings is going to offset the nutritional benefits. But it’s something to consider the next time you need a quick snack.


In other news, could chocolate have health benefits too? Yesterday, a New York Times Article cited a study showing that people who eat chocolate frequently had lower body mass indexes. While researchers could not explain why something loaded with sugar, fat and calories would have a beneficial effect on weight, they suspect that antioxidants and other compounds in chocolate may deliver a metabolic boost that can offset its caloric downside. Other studies have also found that regularly eating chocolate may lower blood pressure and cardiovascular risk, and improve cholesterol and insulin regulation.

But don’t go crazy with chocolate overindulgence just yet. It seems like its the frequency of chocolate consumption and not the amount per serving that has a beneficial effect on BMI. Indeed, the study showed a small trend toward higher BMIs among those consuming larger amounts of chocolate per sitting.

What’s your favorite quick fix snack food? Chocolate-coated popcorn? Mmm. Let us know in your comments or on Twitter.
Friend Massive Health on facebook.
Follow @massivehealth on twitter.

Using The Eatery app is one of the best ways to eat healthier.

Eating right is hard. We make it easier.

Lots of apps tell you what you ate. Only the Eatery can tell you how you eat.

Download the latest version of The Eatery here!

Some Common Questions about the Cookies vs. Bananas (Satiety Index) Infographic

We’re thrilled about the great response from our infographic so far! Have you been choosing better snacks to keep you energized throughout the day? Some readers were curious and wanted to know more about the science behind the infographic, so we thought we’d share how we came to these conclusions and answer those burning questions you have.

Credits: TimeUnion.com

Could you tell me more about the glycemic index in the chart? Don’t apples have a lower glycemic index than oranges? Why is this flipped?

In the Satiety Index experiment by Holt et al. (1995), a group of 11-13 participants were given various 1000kJ portions of test foods and their satiety response was then quantified to get a sense of how much a certain food filled you up.


As such, to accurately find the best foods to keep you full without that dreaded energy crash, we mapped the Satiety Index against the Glucose Score. The Glucose Score was the measure used in Holt et al’s (1997) study of the Insulin Index of Foods, and was obtained by the AUC for the 1000kJ test food divided by AUC for the 1000kJ white bread x 100%. While the glucose score indicates how quickly your blood glucose rises after consumption of a specific test food, it’s different from the glycemic index of food, which is traditionally calculated by the area under the 2 hour blood glucose response curve (AUC) following the ingestion of a fixed portion of carbohydrate (usually 50g), divided by the AUC of the reference food x 100%. Since Holt et al. (1995) used a standard 1000kJ portion of food rather than a specific weight of 50g to counter for the effect of certain foods being more energy-dense and hence having greater satiety than others in the calculation of the Satiety Index, we used Glucose Score as a more appropriate gauge of blood glucose increase. This is how the glycemic index for an apple (50±6%) appears to be higher than that of an orange (39±7%) in the infographic, and similarly for brown (68±10%) and white (46±10%) pasta. That said, using the traditional formula would demonstrate that apples have a lower glycemic index when calculated by the traditional formula, as some have pointed out. However, we thought it would be more appropriate to use the modified glucose formula instead to accurately reflect the use of a 1000kJ test food in the study.

Won’t foods that require a larger serving size to provide the standard 1000kJ portion naturally make one fuller?


In the derivation of Satiety Index, a 1000kJ (240kcal) portion was chosen as a practical serving size to distinguish between the short-term satiating capacities of different foods. Fish was found to have a higher satiety index score (225±30%) compared to beef (176±50%). This probably seemed natural given that one would have to consume a bigger portion of fish as it was less energy-dense and hence participants would have felt full faster. Holt and colleagues did indeed find a strong correlation between the Satiety Index score and serving weight of food, despite food being given under a hood and pulled out in an attempt to minimize subjects’ preconceptions of the hedonic and satiating properties of the test food. However, this was due to differences in macronutrient breakdown rather than serving size. For example, fish had just 1.0g of fat out of a 333g serving (0.3%) compared to beef with 7.7g fat out of a 158g serving size (4.9%). As such, normalizing for calories rather than weight was deemed appropriate in this case.

The study had a small sample size, how accurate is this?

While this study was conducted with a pool of 11-13 patients, it does provide a reasonable degree of power and precision, 80% power at a level of P<0.05 (two-tailed) for this purpose. Most studies of glycemic index have been derived from sample sizes of 10 patients because they provide useful results, and large improvements in power and precision would require two to three times more subjects and corresponding increases in time and resources (Brouns, Bjorck and Frayn et al. 2005).

How can you compare bananas to cookies? They contain all the good nutrients that cookies don’t.


We’re not saying that bananas are as unhealthy as cookies. Because, yes, bananas are chock-full of good nutrients. However they give you the same amount of satiety, and then that sugar crash later on as cookies or french fries. So next time you’re feeling peckish and need that fuel to keep you going throughout a hectic day, don’t decide between a banana or a cookie, but grab an orange instead.

We thought the story behind the infographic might interest you, and we’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks again for reaching out and contributing to this engaging discussion!

References

Holt SH, Brand Miller JC and Petocz P. 1997. An insulin index of foods: the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foodsAm J Clin Nutr. 66(5):1264-76.

Holt SH, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. 1995. A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995. 49(9):675-90

Brouns F, Bjorck I and Frayn KN et al. 2005. Glycaemic Index Methodology. Nutrition Research Review. 18(1):145-71

Friend Massive Health on facebook.
Follow @massivehealth on twitter.

Using The Eatery app is one of the best ways to eat healthier.

Eating right is hard. We make it easier.

Lots of apps tell you what you ate. Only the Eatery can tell you how you eat.

Download the latest version of The Eatery here!

Are Bananas Really as Bad for You as Cookies? [infographic]

Bananas may have more nutrients but they fill you up and give you the same sugar crash as a cookie. 

Some foods fill you up and others leave you feeling hungry.  There’s a science to that: it’s called satiety. 

Three easy swaps to help you feel full throughout the day:

  • Replace breakfast cereal with all-bran for a 30% improvement
  • Replace bananas with oranges for a 71% improvement
  • Replace potato chips with popcorn for a 69% improvement

View the full infographic.

Learn more about the science of satiety and the glycemic index:

Holt SH, Brand Miller JC and Petocz P. 1997. An insulin index of foods: the insulin demand generated by 1000-kJ portions of common foodsAm J Clin Nutr. 66(5):1264-76.

Holt SH, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. 1995. A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995. 49(9):675-90

Roberts SB. 2003. Glycemic Index and Satiety. Nutr Clin Care. 6(1):20-6

Anderson GH, Woodend D. 2003. Effect of glycemic carbohydrates on short-term satiety and food intake. Nutr Rev. 61(5 Pt 2):S17-26.

Jiménez-Cruz A, Manuel Loustaunau-López V, Bacardi-Gascón M. 2006. The use of low glycemic and high satiety index food dishes in Mexico: a low cost approach to prevent and control obesity and diabetes. Nutr Hosp21(3):353-6.


Tips on delicious recipes with a high satiety index:

Skarnulis L. 2012. Satiety: The New Diet Weapon. WebMD.

Thomas T. 2010. Eat less but still feel full. How you can shed pounds by playing tricks on your brain. The Daily Mail.  3 August.

Shape. 2009. The Feel-full Diet. May 7

Delicious Magazine. 2009. Foods to stop hunger pangs. June.

Kelly E. 2009. The 10 Most Filling Foods For Dieters. Examiner.com. May 4.


Health.com. 2012. 7 Foods That Fight Fat.

Friend Massive Health on facebook.
Follow @massivehealth on twitter.

Using The Eatery app is one of the best ways to eat healthier.

Eating right is hard. We make it easier.

Lots of apps tell you what you ate. Only the Eatery can tell you how you eat.

Download the latest version of The Eatery here!