In my early 20's, I remember walking the freezer section of the supermarket to find the best tasting microwave meals with the lowest calorie & fat gram content. I stocked up on canned soups based on the same thing. Diet soda? Yes please. 4 liters a day, in fact, 'cause why not? Zero calories.
Even though I grew up with ample freedom to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, something shifted in my late teens that prompted me to believe that I needed to restrict my portion sizes and reduce my calorie intake in order to be healthy and stay thin.
The result acummulated into a compulsive, restrictive dieting mindset that eventually led me down the road to an eating disorder. While I didn't weigh my food, I certainly measured it, whether looking at the 'serving size" or with my fist or buying a package that took out all the guesswork for me.
For 13 years, women have walked into my private practice with their own version of 'portion control'; chronic dieting, counting calories, points and fat grams and restricting portion sizes all with the well-intended hope of losing weight and getting healthy. The problem is that it wasn't working for them. It wasn't sustainable, enjoyable or aiding in long-lasting weight loss. It left them tired, frustrated and at the end of their rope and often times, being at the end of their rope is what brought women into my office. They desired a new way that was lighter, more freeing and empowering.
What I've found is that all these women - counting calories and fat grams, following strict rules and portion sizes - would lose the weight, stop their "diet", gain the weight, then go on the same or another diet, follow strict rules and skip meals, lose the weight, then gain it back. The model is simply not sustainable AND it's not the way our bodies were designed to be nourished.
Also, the food they were eating and measuring wasn't real food. It was packaged, processed and ladled with chemicals. What your body is really after isn't a certain quantity of food as much as she's after the quality of food.
Yet, as a society, we keep doing the same thing over and over again. We go on and off diet after diet, year after year, using portion size as a measure of true success.
The thing is, if you approach food and eating as a list of rules, calories & fat grams, and portion sizes, you set yourself up for a lifetime of weight and food woes, shame & guilt, as well as hormonal imbalance, energy issues, and weight fluctuations. Plus you take the pure joy out of eating simply because you're focusing on an external number and someone else to determine how much food you need at each meal to truly nourish your body or help you be at your healthiest weight.
If you read Angelle's post a couple days ago that not all calories are created equally, you'll know that at the cellular level, food is information. If you are eating a meal based on a portion size versus the quality of nutrients it gives you, your body still might be lacking the information it needs at the cellular level to know what to do with it.
If you are eating REAL food, food your body knows what to do with, your body gets more of what she needs. The information your body receives from nutrient-rich food is sufficient and at the cellular level, she will begin to communicate differently to you.
The deeper conversation we could be having about portion control is about a woman trusting herself, trusting her body. I meet a lot of women that use portion control because they fear being "out of control" around food. It gives them boundaries and parameters about how much is "okay" to eat. When a woman learns to trust her body and be connected and relaxed inside her body, she will hear her body communicate when enough is enough and it's not when the "fist-sized" portion of chicken has been eaten. It's from a much deeper place.
In our 14-day Reset program, women will ask "how much" is a serving size. It's a legitimate question considering the years and decades of following and believing this paradigm that portion control is directly related to weight loss. However, as each woman digs into this program, she learns "how much" is right for her. Her body starts to receive different information, because the food in our Reset emphasizes the QUALITY of food instead of the QUANTITY.
And the entire conversation about portion control at meal time is diminished and replaced with "Is this food nourishing me?" She's relaxed into the process that her body will communicate when she's full and when she needs more food. It's a beautiful thing and this recent post in our private Facebook Community from one of our ladies is an amazing testimonial to this:
"I would just like to say, I feel great! This Spring Reset is like a lifestyle change for me. I have learned so much about fueling my body the proper way and with intention. It has slowed me down in my life, made me mindful of my relationship with food, and I will stick with this way of fueling myself and my family. I have gained focus, patience, playfulness, laughter, a more even temperament and overall feeling lighter in mind, body and spirit. I am so glad to have walked down this path."
Recovering from my eating disorder, I learned slowly and over time (years!) that fat does not make me fat and it's less about portion size and much much more about choose quality foods; food from God's earth. Food that was grown and raised in gardens and on pasture. I learned that calories don't dictate health and that meals are meant to be savored slowly, enjoyed with others and celebrated, not measured. And at the deeper healing place, it was a journey to learn to trust myself and my body, honoring her and respecting her and letting her be a vital part of the conversation.
If you are ready to begin a new conversation with food and weight that doesn't include counting calories or focusing on portion sizes AND still helping you reach your goals of achieving your healthiest weight and most vibrant, relaxed self, come join us for our 14-day Spring Reset which begins May 14. This is the last one of the season and it won't re-open again in September. We'd love the opportunity to support you.