There’s More to Healthy Living Than Portion Sizes

By Dr Michael Mosley – Author, Presenter and Co-Founder of The Fast 800 programme 

Many people believe that the road to a healthy weight is paved with tiny portions and constant hunger. However, I’m here to tell you this isn’t necessarily the case. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always need to reduce your portion sizes to reach your goal.  

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that not all calories are created equal. Instead of obsessing over portion sizes, we should prioritise the quality of the food we consume. Opt for nutrient-dense, whole foods that provide your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs.  

Creating a balanced and nutritious plate is a fundamental step toward maintaining good health and managing your weight effectively. A well-rounded plate should include a variety of foods from different food groups to ensure you get a wide range of essential nutrients. Here’s a general guideline for what your plate should look like: 

Vegetables (as much as you like!)  

  • Fill your plate with colourful, low-calorie non-starchy vegetables. These are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants, plus there’s no need to count the extra calories (even on fasting days)  

Good Quality Protein (at least 60g)  

  • Allocate at least 60g of high-quality protein on fasting days (and a little more on non-fasting days).  

Other things to note:  

  • Fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, or seeds are essential for good health and fuelling up with these foods will enrich your body, keep you fuller for longer and help to re-sensitise your body to insulin. 
  • If you include dairy in your diet, you can add a portion of full-fat yogurt or milk.   
  • Fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut all contain healthy bacteria and reduce the amount of disease-causing bacteria in the gut. 
  • Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s essential for overall health and can also help control appetite. 
  • Minimise the consumption of sugary beverages, snacks, and ultra-processed foods. These items are often high in calories and can lead to weight gain, plus they can upset your gut.  

It’s crucial to pay attention to the timing of your meals. When you eat can be just as important as what you eat. Instead of constantly snacking throughout the day, try to stick to a structured meal schedule with regular intervals.  

A key aspect of successful weight control is mindful eating. Paying attention to the taste, texture, and satisfaction that food provides can make a significant difference. By savouring your meals and eating slowly, maybe even putting down your knife and fork between each bite, you’re more likely to recognise when you’re full and avoid overindulging. 

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is another important component of weight control and better health, as is stress management and positive sleep patterns. 

By adopting a holistic approach, you can achieve your goals without constantly feeling hungry or deprived. It’s about making positive, long-lasting changes to your lifestyle rather than simply cutting down on portion sizes. 

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