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Mindful Monday: Portion Control

May 10, 2010

In case you missed it, here are the first two installments of Mindful Monday (about mindful eating):

When I first read that the third step to mindful eating, according to Thich Naht Hanh in the book he co-authored with Dr. Lillian Cheung, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Living, is portion control, I was a little stumped.

Portion control? Isn’t that what Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig teach you? For some reason it just seemed like everyday diet advice more than anything to do with mindfulness.

I guess because I’ve been aware, if not always entirely mindful, of portion control for years. That doesn’t mean I’ve always 100% stuck with small portions, but I know that a 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice is a serving. I know that we should be using smaller 9 inch dinner plates and smaller utensils when we eat. I guess it hadn’t occurred to me until now that other people aren’t aware of that.

Portion control really does require mindfulness. You must notice how big your bowls, plates, and utensils are. You must be aware of what a serving size is and how much you are putting on your plate. You must be mindful of restaurants and their over-sized portions.

Portion control is good on the wallet and environment, too. Think about it: If you eat 2.5 servings of cereal every morning because you don’t measure anything and eat from a huge bowl, the box will be gone before the week is out. If you portion out your servings and pay attention, however, that box will probably last a week or two. In addition to helping our your bottom and bottom line, eating less may be easier on the environment, too. If your cereal lasts 11 days instead of 5, think about how much less plastic, cardboard, ink, and oil will be consumed. It adds up!

Now, I’m not encouraging you to starve yourself! I’m thinking this portion control business is just one more way to get in touch with your body. If you conciously honor the food and engage the senses while you eat, as I talked about previously, then it’s very possible that the smaller portion is plenty for you, you just never noticed before. If you normally eat quickly and don’t notice what you’re doing, it’s entirely possible you are eating much more than you body actually needs for fuel.

So far I’m contuining to find mindful eating very…enlightening. I’m so glad I’m posting about it every Monday, because often times over the weekend I am not as good at being thankful for my food and slowing down to enjoy it. Noticing what I’m eating, chewing better, putting down my fork between bites, smelling my food, they’re all becoming part of my everyday eating habits, which I think is wonderful.

I hope you’re having a wonderful Monday!


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