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. Fiber-rich foods have the same effect, so plan to include at least one. Lentils, quinoa, brown rice and black beans are good options, but vegetables like peas, spinach, Brussels sprouts and acorn squash are great choices that do double duty.
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.
When You’re Cooking
Resist the urge to over prepare. Leftovers are great for tomorrow’s lunch, but if the table is overflowing it’s more challenging to control your eating habits. Think about how much food you usually have left over after a typical meal, then reduce the amount you prepare by that much. It’s hard to go for seconds when there’s just enough to go around once. To be more accurate, measure out your ingredients instead of eyeballing them. And if you still end up with extras, pre-portion them and put them in the refrigerator before beginning your meal. Dividing your leftovers into sensible portions ahead of time helps you avoid overindulging in them tomorrow.
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.