Learning Center

Module 5 - Eating At Home

It's All About Choices

Nutrition CounselingEvery day we have an opportunity to make many choices about what we will eat.  For most of us we make our usual choices.  You might say we are creatures of habit, buying the same foods week after week, preparing them in the same way and following the same eating patterns that we have followed for many years.  If those habits were not the most healthful or nutritious, we will eventually be affected.  As you follow your weight loss plan, you need to reexamine your lifestyle habits, both related to food and exercise.

As you might expect, how well you do shopping for nutritious foods at the grocery can make your choices when eating at home easier or harder.  If you’ve stocked up on cookies and cakes, it’s going to be difficult to avoid them when you see them every time you look in the pantry. 

When And Where To Eat

Let’s assume you made good choices at the grocery.  What choices do you need to make when eating at home?      First of all you need to establish some ground rules.  Start with agreeing that the only one place in your home where you will eat is the kitchen or dining room.  For many of us that’s a big change.  Most of us eat in any room of the house especially wherever we spend our relaxation time, be it in the family room watching TV or in front of the computer.  Limit where you eat starting today.

Next create a meal schedule and stick to it.  Skipping meals is never a good idea if you want to lose weight and keep it off.  Make sure you include a few healthy snacks in your plan. Another benefit of keeping a food diary and reviewing it regularly is that you can see what triggers your overeating.  Many of us eat when we are sad, depressed, lonely or angry.  If that sounds like you, you need to find a healthier way to deal with these emotions.  When you feel depressed you may want to substitute going for a walk or reading a book or knitting a sweater for eating a pint of Rocky Road.

Meal Preparation

Let’s talk about meal preparation.  Be sure to choose the leanest cuts of meat, but also remove any fat from the cuts you are using.  Remove the skin from poultry.  Avoid frying.  Bake or broil instead.  Avoid excess usage of butter, cheeses and heavy sauces.  Use olive or canola oil when cooking.  If a recipe calls for cheese or milk, substitute the lower fat variety.

Before Your Meal

About 30 to 60 minutes before your meal have a piece of fruit or glass of water.  This will start to make you feel full so you are less likely to overeat during your meal.

Serving Your Meal

When it’s time to serve the meal there are a few tricks that can help.  First and foremost, know the proper serving sizes.  The accompanying table provides some guidance on that.  You’ll notice that there are some common size equivalent objects in parentheses for some of the foods.  For instance, 3 ounces of meat is approximately the same size as a deck of cards.  If you’re not sure, use a scale.  They are relatively inexpensive.  After you’ve used it for awhile, you’ll become better at estimating serving sizes and won’t need to use it all the time.

Food Group 1 Serving
1 slice bread
1 oz dry cereal
1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
1 cup raw leafy vegetable
1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetable
1/2 cup vegetable juice
½ cup fruit juice
1 medium fruit (size of a tennis ball)
¼ cup dried fruit
½ cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit (size of 1/2 baseball)
Fat-free or low fat milk and equivalent milk products
1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk
1 cup fat-free or low-fat yogurt
1½ oz fat-free, low-fat, or reduced fat cheese (size of 6 dice)
Lean meats, poultry & fish
3 oz cooked meat (size of a deck of cards), poultry, or fish (size of a checkbook) (1 oz meat = 1 egg) (Limit egg yolk intake to no more than 4 per week due to high cholesterol in yolks.)
Nuts, seeds & legumes
⅓ cup or 1½ oz nuts
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp or ½ oz seeds
½ cup cooked dry beans or peas

Since the proper portions are usually smaller then what most of us typically eat, some people use smaller dinner plates to minimize the difference.  Try it!  Use a salad plate for your next dinner entre.  To avoid the temptation to take second helpings don’t place serving plates or bowls on the dinner table.  Leave the pots & pans on the stove!

During Your Meal

When you eat, make sure you take your time.  This gives time for the hormones that control your appetite to let the brain know that you are getting the nutrients you need and the brain will send out messages that you are feeling full.  Some people will get up from the table for a minute or two after they’ve eaten 50-75% of their meal for the same reason.  They’ll continue eating after that brief rest feeling fuller than if they ate straight through.   It’s a good idea to drink water with your meals.  It adds to the feeling of fullness without adding calories.  If you have taken a larger portion of food than you had intended, move the extra amount to the side with the plan that this will be your leftovers to enjoy at another meal.  There is nothing wrong with leftovers!  Remember no second helpings.  For most of us there is a tendency to nibble after a meal.  After you finish eating, get up from the table and do something, be it washing the dishes or going for a walk.  You want to distance yourself from the temptation to eat some more.

After Your Meal

This is an ideal time to enter it in your food diary.  It is really important that you keep and review your food diary at least weekly.  You may want to do that yourself particularly before you go shopping.  If you have had a difficult week and haven’t made much progress, reviewing the food diary can help you identify the reasons behind that.  Once you understand those reasons, you can figure out how to overcome those challenges.  Here’s an example:  It might be that after the last weigh in, you wanted to reward yourself for having lost 3 pounds a week for the preceding 4 weeks, so you decided that you would treat yourself once in the upcoming week to a serving of low fat ice cream.  Well the week is over and your food diary shows that instead of a one time treat, you had that ice cream five times.  There is a lesson to be learned here.  The next time you want to reward yourself for losing weight, it would be better not to do so with food.  Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure instead.  Remember, an extra 100 calories per day for a year will add up to an extra 10 pounds!

These are some strategies to use when you are eating at home.  Take the Practice Tests on this topic to check how well you understand it.






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