How often have you set out to eat healthy portions at dinner only to realize you’ve helped yourself to a few too many scoops of potatoes after it’s too late? Overeating can compromise your health and your waistline, but setting yourself up for success is easier than you think. Consider these simple and effective tips—straight from the Canyon Ranch dining room.
As You Plan Your Meal
A good rule of thumb: Let vegetables account for half of your dinner. Not only will you get lots of nutrients, but these low-calorie foods fill you up. All plant foods contain filling fiber, but some are particularly rich in this nutrient: Lentils, quinoa, brown rice and black beans, peas, spinach, Brussels sprouts and acorn squash are are all options that can help you feel satiated.
Can’t shake that hankering for gooey macaroni and cheese? Don’t! As you plan your meals, think of all foods as “healthier” and “less healthy,” rather than “good” or “bad.” Portion size is what determines the total number of calories. So if you’ve got to have that mac and cheese, serve a small amount as an accompaniment to more filling, less calorie-dense foods that also deliver important nutrients, like a hefty serving of broccoli or a chopped veggie salad.
Before Your Meal
It’s more challenging to control your eating habits if the table is overflowing with more food than you and your family needs. Consider pre-portioning extras and putting them in the refrigerator before beginning your meal. Dividing your leftovers into sensible portions ahead of time helps you avoid overindulging in them tonight or tomorrow, and it’s an easy way to have a healthy homemade lunch on the ready.
When You’re Serving
Set the table with small plates (salad dishes work perfectly), which can help healthy-sized portions seem indulgent. Then, serve food in courses from the kitchen, instead of putting it all out on the table for the taking.
Ordered in? Though saving yourself from washing dishes may be tempting, never eat out of containers or cartons—you can’t keep track of what you’ve eaten when you don’t have a strong visual of where you started. Plate your take-out as you would a home-cooked meal.
While You’re Eating
Practice mindful eating. This means taking the time to slow down, pay attention to your meal and enjoy each bite, which gives your brain time to receive the “I’m full” signal. To pace yourself, cut your food as you go instead of all at once. Make sure you savor the smell, texture and flavor of your food. Chew each bite well, swallow it before taking the next and put your utensils down in between. Dimming the lights and playing soft music can set a relaxing mood and remind you that you’re in no rush. Bon appetit.