Monday, August 03, 2015


To lose weight, weigh your food

It was hard not to laugh when my friend posted on her Facebook page: “I ate a Greek yogurt for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and then I came home and ate the whole kitchen.” Can’t we all relate to that? As someone who has struggled with overeating for most of my adult life, I sure can.

It all really boils down to portion control and balance. These are the keys to weight loss. Simple as that.

I asked my colleague, Backus Hospital Registered Dietitian Joan Sommers, for some guidelines to keep portions under control without feeling hungry all the time. Joan had some very interesting points to consider.

“If you are hungry, what are you missing from your meal plan? Incorporate more functional foods such as healthy carbohydrates — that’s right — carbohydrates are not bad foods! Carbohydrate foods provide us with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and many non-starch vegetables can be used to fill us up. I have never in my life as a dietitian said, ‘Slow down on the vegetables.’ I really try to have my clients find delicious recipes incorporating 2-3 servings of non-starch vegetables with their meals. There is nothing wrong with adding a veggie for breakfast. Fiber is found naturally in fruits, grains, and vegetables. I usually prescribe between 25-30 grams per day. But don’t forget, as one increases fiber content, it’s also important to increase water intake.

"Another major nutrient that may be missing is protein. Protein helps keep us full; the need for protein is 1.0-1.2 grams per kilogram of ideal body weight.

Portions are very important and the only way one can identify what they are eating is to measure and weigh your food intake. We can focus on overeating but the reverse can be true. For example, we as health educators may identify a 3-ounce portion of chicken as a deck of cards. I never use this as an example because during my cooking demonstrations I would ask my participants to let me know when they thought I had 3 ounces of poached chicken on my scale. Not one person was able to identify 3 ounces; surprisingly, they all felt that 1-2 ounces of chicken was 3 ounces. So if they did not measure, but just estimated the amount of protein they ate, they may be hungry later during the day.”

Well, I certainly learned a lot from Joan’s guidelines. It’s all “food for thought.”

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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