Reader question… “I am wondering how all of you handle serving sizes at meal times? Do any of you actually follow the recommended servings per day when the family is served; and if so, how do you serve up the meal? Do you plate it up and then bring it to the table or do you let everyone serve themselves? What about seconds for family members without weight problems? I come from a family that has always been very overweight and my husband is also now very overweight. I really believe that the answer to the problem is to just eat smaller portions and concentrate on eating healthier, balanced meals. I am concerned about our children’s eating habits… I want them to learn good habits for a lifetime but it has been confusing for me as to how to actually accomplish this. How often do you serve treats and deserts to your family? And again, when you do, do you only serve one serving for each person or just how does that work? Our kids love junk food and sweets… and so do we… I know that we must eat a lot less of these things… or do we have to eliminate them completely? Again… I think that the answer is to limit them… but I have no idea what ‘occasionally’ means. How often do you serve dessert, and how often do you have stuff like popcorn and the ‘occasional bag of chips’? I guess this sounds stupid to most of you without any food and weight issues… but it is a big problem for those of us who do. I really would appreciate your input!!! I guess I am just wondering how ‘normal, thin people’ eat!! Help!! And thank-you!!!” –Anna

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Lynne

We have weight issues also and I do limit portion sizes to my children. This is something new I just started doing and if I’m being honest I’m not comfortable doing this. We ate mostly processed or takeout food previously and I have started cooking from scratch but my family doesn’t like it as well. I really am at my wits end. Like Anna I’m looking for answers.

Mrs. Dorothy C.

I don’t limit serving sizes at the table but I do limit snacks between meals. We don’t have any! You asked about popcorn which is really a healthy snack by itself. It’s the added butter that adds the fat and calories. If you pop corn in a hot air popper it is very low calorie and low fat.

SCS

I didn’t let my boys overeat. They never ate between meals and had limits on cookies etc. They were average weight UNTIL they went off on their own. Now they are BIG men one weighing 100 lbs more than he should and the other 30 over. You just never know what people are going to decide to do when they are grown and on their own.
My husband has been over by 20 pounds or so and then quite smoking and is now over by about 30. He is now limiting himself to SLIM FAST twice a day with fruit and a somewhat normal supper. :)
I for one have always been anal over my weight. LOL. I control myself all the time. I’m maybe 4 pounds heavier than high school. :)
It is hard to tell weather the limiting causes them to go out of control when they are on their own or what the deal is. Not sure. My husbands family are ALL obese.

Marleen

I have studied about this things a lot.
And I think it is so important to start eating healthy. That means for me I don’t use sugar, sweeteners and all those artificial stuff that is mixed in food to give it taste and colour. If you know what it does to your body you will be frightened.
A big problem is E 951, nutrasweet. This sweetener causes cravings and it damages your nerval system.
Sodiumglutamate is also dangerous and addictive. If you start cooking from scratch, and don’t use sugar and sweeteners your cravings will start to leave.

4boysrfun

We do our best to stay away from pre-packaged processed foods, sugar, and refined flours; we try to eat as “close to the source” as possible. No sodas or fast food. Afternoon snacks are allowed. At dinner we use smaller plates and try to stay away from seconds. After dinner, all of our eating for the day is done. This does require more time and effort, but it is well worth it!

I have an 80/20 rule. We eat healthy 80% of the time and indulge in something “forbidden” 20% of the time. For example, I will allow myself to eat bread one day a week and a dessert one day a week. Other examples, one bag of chips per month, homemade cookies once per month, etc.

Keeping a food journal , noting what you eat, how you are feeling, and the time of the day and what is going on around you, is very helpful in identifying areas you need to focus on.

TechSamaritan

We used to eat a *lot* more processed foods and sugar. Once our daughter started exhibiting signs of sugar sensitivity, we began limiting ourselves (not just her). We went cold-turkey and it was hard, but we found that if set a specific time frame (ie. 40 days), it was easier to adjust knowing that it was not *forever*. What we found was that our cravings changed during that time, and the things that were just sweet before had become super-sweet and not in a good way. After the switch, we continued to have a diet of dramatically reduced sugar (or sweet in general, including honey, corn-syrup, and artificial sweeteners). The most difficult part is changing your own perspective. As long as you continue to “tolerate” sweet as a normal element of every meal/drink, you will always want sweet. As soon as it becomes rare or special, a celebration of delight instead of a routine element, it is far more enjoyable, and healthy.

As for the portions, I am inclined to think that there are deep spiritual roots represented in how we eat. For me, I eat more than I should when some internal conflict has been “eating away” at my insides, or when I am feeling separation from God and others. There is just a deeper hunger that I try to fill at meals. I have a tendency to be selfish with food, and when I especially like something, it comes out as gluttony. I confess these things only because my attempts at controlling portions or cravings were futile until I acknowledged where the compulsion was coming from. Now I can (sometimes) identify the feeling of emptiness, and rather than overeating, I can do a little self analysis to better understand why I feel “extra empty”.

The positive side of removing sweet from the diet and learning to cook from scratch, is that you begin to gain a new appreciation for the world of spices and savory flavors. My kids absolutely love pesto, curried lentils, tapanade, and other delicious and savory dishes.

Grace

Yes the information available can be very confusing, but it sounds like you’re on the right track with the smaller portions and healthy balanced meals. I read a quote once that went “Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much” and I think that pretty much sums it up. Real food being anything still close to it’s natural form (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, meat and dairy) as opposed to refined and processed foods (white bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, pastry, crisps, heavily processed meats). The former are calorie poor/nutrient rich meaning that you can eat a lot more of them for the same calorie intake, and be satisfied for longer and get healthier as well. The latter are calorie rich/nutrient poor meaning that just a little contains lots of calories, but you still haven’t eaten enough nutrients (vitamins, minerals etc) to be healthy, so you want to eat more.

A good rough idea of 1 portion size is what will fit into the palm of the eater’s hand. So a healthy balanced dinner might consist of 1 portion of protein (meat or alternative), 1 of carbohydrate (potato/whole grain pasta/brown rice), and 3 of vegetables (fresh, frozen, or plain tinned). Serve on plates and carry to the table, and sit down and eat slowly and enjoyably with conversation pauses. Eating slower gives the stomach a chance to realise how full it actually is, and is a chance to share and appreciate delicious home-cooked food. Using smaller plates is a really good idea as studies have shown that people consider how full their plate looks rather than how big their plate is when deciding it’s “enough” food. Make them wait half an hour before seconds, often they’ll decide they’re no longer hungry after all!

Keep junk food, cakes, biscuits, crisps and desserts for treats, and instead fill the cupboards with healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, nuts, carrot sticks and plain crackers. In our house a treat is something that happens no more than once a week, so maybe make one day a week when you cook everyone’s favourites? We usually do it on Saturday which is grocery shopping day, so we’ll buy our weekly treat then, and make a dessert to go with dinner :)

It can be a bit more expensive to buy whole fresh foods, but they are so delicious and satisfying that you eat less of them, and feel much better. Good luck!

Stephanie

I have always struggled with weight. My children, not so much. They have a lot of their father in them, so that they get a little “fluffy” during the winter when it is too cold to be outside. But the rest of the year they are normal weight. They are allowed to have a snack at 2:30 pm each day (usually something sweet like cookies, or grapes…whatever I have on hand). They then get a desert after dinner, again usually something sweet.
I do not allow them to have soda most of the time (birthdays and holidays are an exception). They are fairly active, riding bikes, swimming etc.
I on the other hand, have to start working out more…not enough exercise and too many sodas/snacks has pushed mommy past the “fluffy” stage. LOL.

As for meal portions, they are not limited except on potatoes. If I let him, my middle one would eat an entire pan of mashed potatoes. He is skinny as a rail, but don’t think he needs that many.

Serita

Haha!! I LOVE that…”Fluffy”!! Anyway, I definitely see the value in what all of the other contributers said and I suppose I wanted to say something because I always was overweight with overweight parents, in fact, ALL of my relatives are overweight and I grew up being told that because of that, I was automatically condemned to a life of obesity myself (BAD thing to tell kids, because then we don’t even bother trying!!). I had, therefore, struggled with just staying in the “overweight” range rather than the “obese” range for health reasons. When I got married, my husband (who’s family are almost all in the normal to way-too-thin range), he kindly pointed out a few habits that I had that I did not realize were sabotaging all of my efforts, so I will share them because they really did work (I’ve been on the low end of normal weight for a long time now…to the dismay of my relatives who choose to believe it’s genetic and they can’t do anything about it!). First, for me, no meal was complete without a BOWL of sauce and tons of salt…without these, food just had no flavor…solid food was just the ‘vehicle for the sauce’. I fought and fought that dipping my fries in ranch, etc, was really that bad (because I claimed that life was not worth living if I couldn’t taste my food), however, after some time of decreasing my sauce intake, I noticed one day that, although I had my ‘bowl’ of extra sauce, I was using it quite sparingly, and I realized that my palate had adjusted and I was actually able to TASTE the food, with little or no sauce. It was a truly thrilling moment! It gave me control over my body. I was so excited I started to make more changes with the realization that it’s a matter of re-training your palate…it stinks for a few months, but then you start to PREFER things less sweet/salty…REALLY!! The second thing, before I bore people to death, is that just because marriage is supposed to be “equal” and balanced in every other way, if we eat the same amount of food as our spouse does, we’re eating WAY TOO MUCH! Definitely limiting the second on mealtimes to at least 30minutes after the kids finish will help…and MOST importantly, kids will never, ever, ever learn good habits if they are not taught by example. If we are emotional-eaters, so will they be, if we are always snacking, so will they…”Do as I say, not as I do” never worked for anyone. Many of us doomed to being overweight have (painfully) changed our habits, and so can you!!! I believe in you! :-))

:::::::::::: wife mom maniac ::::::::::::

We are a thin “normal” family, and we live on the canadian pacific coast on a small island that has very few fat/obese people, there might be, like, 10 in our population of 3500.

Here is what we don’t eat much of: things made out of dough like pasta(maybe twice a week), bread (maybe twice a week), boxed cereals. We don’t drink soda or very much juice or even much milk, mostly water or plain herbal teas.

We eat meat sparingly, perhaps 3 times a week for dinner, fish once or twice. we also frequently drink green smoothies which are some bananas, apples or pears, a small splash of juice and some kale or spinach from the garden, I grow kale year round. We eat some cheese but not every day, maybe 3 or 4 days a week for one meal on those days.

What we do eat alot of is salads, soups, veggie stews, beans, rice, rice noodles, some tofu, a fair amount of eggs, oatmeal, root veggies, tomatoe sauces, fruit, frozen peas/corn/blueberries. We’re not vegans or vegetarians but we do eat a mostly vegan diet with some animal products mixed in with the mostly grains and fruit and veggie diet we’re on.

As for treats we eat some candies, or a box of cookies a few times a week, lately we’ve had an ice cream cone a few times a week.

I do not limit portions on my kids dinners/meals AT ALL, EVER. I don’t agree with it, I think people need to have a healthy understanding of when they are full, so many people grew up with families that made them finish the food on their plates, now we have lots of weight concerned parents restricting kids food instead of letting kids learn for themselves when they are full and when they are hungry. If the foods you are offering are healthy and fresh, there is no need to limit portions. My 5 almost 6 yr old daughter has recently just started chowing down like crazy, obviously a growth spurt, I think it would be harmful for me to tell her not to eat if she’s hungry when she really is very very hungry lately.

Most of the people in my community are very health conscious, many of them don’t have tvs, few have video games. We are not in a suburb we are on a small rural island with trails through the woods, beaches everywhere, and no malls or fast food chains of any sort. I think living in suburbs with nowhere to walk to, and not spending enough time in nature is unhealthy as well, so I think eating really healthy foods, as much as you feel like, and spending time in nature whenever possible, multiple times a week is a good start.

FWIW my husband’s family is all pretty overweight, they eat mostly dough stuff, pasta and bread with every meal, lots of donuts and cookies. My husband is the only thin one, and we credit the way I’ve described our eating.

Marilyn

These have been wonderful posts everyone. Thanks for sharing. I’ve noticed that as our calendar has filled up, our meals have decreased in nutritional value. We’ve been eating more convenience foods and going to junk food for an extra boost of energy when we’ve waited too long for a meal.

So, when we notice this trend, we look at our calendar, see what we can cut out and where we can plan accordingly. I do a weekly meal plan and always grocery shop with a list. Because I do believe in enjoying life, we haven’t cut treats out of our diet completely, but we do not have them daily basis like we used to.

I also do not limit my children on healthy things, but do limit them on sweets. My kids also love butter, so I do watch them with that. I started looking around our house and was amazed where sugar was hiding! Cereal, granola bars, applesauce, juices…

Best of luck to all the posters who are also looking towards a healthier lifestyle!!

Karen

Many wonderful and helpful suggestions already. I have always had a weight problem (love all the unhealthy stuff!) – but am really trying hard to eat healthier. I have cut out almost all sugar – especially anything with high fructose corn syrup in it – which eliminates A LOT of food! Also have gone to whole grains completely. You can cook enough brown rice for several meals – heats up great – and saves a lot of time when you are in a hurry. Eat only whole wheat or whole grain pasta – fresh fruit is still the best dessert ever!
I cut up melons and put them in 1 cup containers for a quick snack.
As for popcorn – best snack ever – if you don’t care for air-popped popcorn, pop it either in olive or canola oil – much healthier and gives it a good taste also. I usually have popcorn at least five nights a week (I eat one piece at a time, so it takes a while to eat it)
Best advice I can give, though, is to use a small (salad) plate, and drink lots of water!
We try (lol) to have a special dessert only once a week

Alec Bright

I have read with interest the post ‘how do normal, thin people eat’? I think I may be able to at least share my views as a thin person, although I have to stop at ‘normal’ as many people that know me think I have some kind of eating disorder! You see, we don’t worry with set mealtimes, we tried the three meals a day thing while our son was growing up and by the evenings I used to feel heavy and bloated. Now we eat when we are hungry, that way we can eat what we want, when we want purely by regulating quantity. If we can be bothered with breakfast (which I would suggest you do if you have a family, most important meal of the day I’m told) just have a bowl of cereal, or toast and preserves etc, something light to get you ready for the day. I only eat breakfast at weekends, when I am not rushing around getting ready for work. My stomach usually tells me its lunchtime around 12 or 1, if I have not had any breakfast, but if you feel hungry earlier make lunchtime happen, right there and then. About 10 O’Clock if necessary! Have something light and healthy such as open sandwiches, salads etc. This could be the time to add in a packet of crisps or a bar of choccy to finish, a kind of mini-dessert treat! Incidentally, if I have had a bigger than normal or later breakfast I probably won’t fancy lunch anyway and skip it altogether. The main meal of the day is the one which usually ends up being fixed at around 5 or 6pm, although even that is by no means certain, its best not to eat any later. When the family come home after their various days commitments everybody is usually ready to eat, but even if somebody says ‘I’m not really hungry, I grabbed a burger earlier’ don’t be distressed, its not a slur on your cooking, they are just ‘eating when they are hungry’. Asking people what they fancy for dinner tonight is a good way to make them wait until they get home, and make the kids feel like they are participating in mealtime. Desserts only usually happen after the main meal on Saturdays and Sundays when we have time to sit around and digest. In all, don’t be caught up in the ‘must have three meals a day and they must be at this time’ scenario. Perhaps offer three meals, and if a familliar face appears at the table every single time, then regulate his/her quantity and healthiness of food, if somebody has missed a meal or two, then he/she can have a slightly larger helping! But keep it healthy by following your own preferences for healthy eating, after all, you’re the cook and therefore the head decision maker.

Art

Good Day,

I am getting to this late. I have had a weight problem for a long time. I am now in one of the worlds best and most recommended surgical weight loss programs in the world at Tufts New England Medical Center.

Larger peoples bodies do want to be fat. Period end of story they do, it takes a great deal of some simple tactics to change this cycle. The first being, smaller portions sizes, smaller plates, the right foods, the right foods when out to dinner and the real honest ability to distinguish between Mouth Hungry and actual hunger. I took me well over three months to actually get the Mouth Hunger… It is just that, see food, smell food or just think it will produce mouth hunger. It takes 20 mintues for your stomach to tell the brain it is full. Slowing down eating and chewing is the only way to NOT over eat. I took dinner from 10 minutes to one hour and NOT in front of any TV because this is the easiest place to over eat.

Identify your chains… I have one which will always fail. For instance. I leave work in late afternoon at 3pm, heading to the train home, if I am hungry I have to pass through the train station and the eating establishments, MCDonald Double cheeseburgers are my worst, I get a couple. Why because I am hungry. You ID the chain and break a link.

Slow down eating at meal time, and you do not, contrary to the norms need to have Breakfast lunch and dinner…. You can have six meals a day and the last being very small and not at all a sit down dinner…

So, that being said I have lost 75 pounds hitting a huge plateau and now opting for a surgical solution… I will drop from 410 pounds at my highest to around 195 to 200 pounds…

Oh and by the way i also run a small farm as well as work and commute to Boston Daily… So my chores start for all the animals when I get up and then again come home… I cannot blame a sedentary life… I can fix this so I live for my kids. So can you…
art

Esther

I think exercise is the key. Eat what you want when you want. I only think about a regular meal time because of my son. I do not like to eat a lot at one sitting. I love snacking too much, all day long. Really never eat a big helping of meat. I so like ice cream, have been making my own ice milk, and putting frozen fruit with it in a blender… I eat big plates of Salad, with veggies, and oil and vinegar. All the fruit I want, love watermelon. If I eat pasta, I like it with butter, garlic, parmesan cheese, and not too much. I love bread, and lots of butter, cheese and home made jam and natural peanut butter. I do not like potato chips, or soda, or….
anything processed is pretty much out at my house. I absolutely have to have homemade baked goods on hand, cake or cookies and a staple in my house is shortbread…. I am not overweight…. sometimes I think it helps to miss a meal and to take a walk before bedtime can help to keep you thin.

alan

simple: avoid all processed food. that’s the crap agribusiness sells.

eat local, eat fresh green, especially raw uncooked foods, avoid meat and factory dairy. If you can get local small scale dairy, so much the better. Cows and such eat grass, not corn, not iindustrial corn full of GMOs and poison.

that’s all!

tabatha

i recently joined a gym and started talking to a personal trainer who is helping me lose weight. he told me i should eat 5 or 6 smaller meals a day instead of 3 larger ones b/c it will keep my blood sugar stable and help me to have energy through the day. i realize this is not realistic for everyone but i think snacking between meals is a good things as long as the snacks are healthy like fruit or veggies, and you don’t eat as much during regular meals so it will allow your stomach to shrink down to a normal size and help control hunger and cravings. also drinking lot of water is very good. i also try not to buy any junk food when i grocery shop, b/c chances are if i keep it in the house that is the first thing i eat. so i don’t keep soda around, i drink water or juice(not the super sugary kind), mostly i try to drink water.

Stephen

I’ve never had a weight problem growing up, but then I got married and all the good cooking and family life took it’s toll. About a year ago my wife and I joined Weight watchers and I’m down 75lbs. to 148lbs. which is what I was in my 20′s.

Here is what I’ve learned:
Portion size recommendation that are printed on the packages are pretty close to what people should be eating. The portion sizes that you get in restaurants is about 2 portions so it’s best to put half immediately in a to go box for tomorrows lunch.

Yes, exercise will help you lose and maintain, not to mention it’s good for you overall, but you don’t have to go to the gym just parking your car further from the door and walking or taking the stairs will do (I can’t really exercise due to a herniated disc).

6 to 8 ounces of fluids helps to flush out the junk, water is the best and stay away from the high fructose drinks, drink diet if you need to have the taste or use a water add-in flavor. Most of the time your hunger is really thirst so drink an 8 oz glass of water 10 minutes before you grab the food and see if your still hungry, it will also help your portion control at meal time too if you drink the 8oz water first before eating.

Hope this helps.

Dee

If you have been overweight (meaning obesely overweight) your entire life you may very well want to do the research about bariatric surgery. Your metabolism is set and your body has programmed itself to be somewhere around weight “X”. You may lose weight, but studies say that the weight loss is only temporary (temporary may even mean 5-10 years) and that you WILL gain it back without the help of surgery.

I’m getting a Roux En Y sometime this year and am very excited about it. My sister has lost 150 pounds with hers. She got it done about a year ago.

For those that have only recently found that they are overweight after having children/getting older you MUST exercise more. Having a baby and getting older will slow metabolism for many people. Exercise, however, doesn’t mean a boring routine. My current exercise regime this summer is installing an above ground pool in my backyard. For the past two weeks I have spent at least two hours digging and leveling. I have lost over 10 pounds (starting at around 310…which makes weight loss easier). Painting/cleaning/drywalling/re-carpeting are all other great forms of exercise.

Every time I’m done working on it I have something that I can actually look at immediately to make me feel accomplished – as opposed to leaving a gym which will probably take weeks to give you any VISUAL signs of effort (weight loss). We have also stopped using our riding lawn mower. I use a non-self-propelled walking mower once a week to mow our .68 acre lawn.

I also make a point to eat breakfast now – which is something I’ve always skipped. Now instead of being ravenous and eating nearly non stop between 3 and when I go to bed (grazing), I notice that I’m not hungry for lunch until around 1 or 2PM and I’m barely hungry for dinner.

Dee

As far as kids go, I have to agree with the woman that lets her kids graze whenever they’re hungry. My two boys are thin. They are four and two, and I can’t imagine how awful of an idea it would be to limit their food! I also grazed growing up, but the difference is very, very shocking when I think about it…

…at my house growing up there was a HUGE pantry of chips, cookies, soda, bakery items, etc. There was ALWAYS soda in the fridge. There was ALWAYS ice cream/syrup/etc.

My boys graze on grapes, yogurt, pretzels (no fat), cereal (non-sugar), bananas, watermelon and they drink kool-aid that I make with half the suggested amount of sugar. Juice, unfortunately, gives them both yeast infections – even when it’s watered down. They also will drink milk and water.

At my house growing up we would spend all day watching TV. My boys, especially when they have consumed a larger than normal amount of calories, are bouncing off the walls when they watch TV or are playing outside. I dread the day when they go to school and the school system tries to get me to mediate them for hyperactivity. There WILL be a horrible fight over it. They WILL lose. :-D I’d rather have my boys be hyperly active now than live a lifetime of health problems from obesity. :-)

As far as my husband goes…he was overweight as a child, outgrew it as a teen and is now overweight. He is not obese. Most of his weight comes and goes with the seasons and teeters between normal and 30 pounds overweight. He never thinks twice about it. Occassionally he’ll jump on a scale when he notices that his pants are falling off and he’ll laugh when he sees that he’s 20 lbs lighter than he was six months ago. :-)

Mia

It’s always interesting to read about other people’s habits. Things that seem normal to you look strange to them, and things they do look nearly impossible. To that end, I’ll throw in my own little list of food behaviors for you to ponder. I’m in my late twenties and I still weigh as much as I did in high school, which is not much at all. I’ve never had a child, and I’m sure that helps, but my parents are also very thin.

I mostly drink water, and I have always done so; I find juice disgusting. I drink a diet cola maybe once a month when I’m in the mood, and I drink tea and coffee in the winter. I also drink around 4-5 alcoholic beverages per week (usually gin or vodka with tonic – no fruity drinks).

I don’t obsessively cut out white bread or sugar or anything. I’m a dairy addict and I eat cheese every day, often sour cream as well. Always the full fat versions. I despise drinking milk, however, and only keep it around for cereal (which I eat every morning – Fiber One, Mini-Wheats, or Kix) and cooking.

I occasionally eat fast food, usually a McDonald’s filet-o-fish or an order of animal style fries at In-n-Out. Of note is that I only get the one item. I never “make it a meal”. I eat at nicer restaurants 4x per week. Mostly French or Ethiopian. I eat dessert after lunch and dinner, almost without fail because I love sweets. This is usually something small but delicious and satisfying like a square of chocolate or a tablespoon of peanut butter.

If I don’t feel like eating a healthy dinner and would rather eat a chocolate lava cake with ice cream, that’s what I do. I think this is important. I know people who will say, “oh, you can’t eat dessert if you don’t have dinner!” However, if you think about it, what has less calories? Dinner and dessert, or just dessert? Obviously dessert by itself has less. If you are really craving a big dessert, eating dinner isn’t going to satiate it. You’ll still eat the dessert, but by eating dinner you just doubled your food intake.

I have never owned dinner plates. I eat my dinner on so-called salad plates. I very often leave food on my plate. It doesn’t bother me. If I eat food when I’m not hungry I’ve wasted it just as surely as if I had thrown it in the trash, so I might as well do just that.

I eat VERY slowly to the consternation of all my friends. I take about twice as long to eat half the food they do.

I monitor my weight weekly and if I go more than 5 pounds over my normal weight, I get on it. I cut my caloric intake to around 1k/day until the weight goes back to normal. Then I go back to eating what I want.

Finally, I should mention that I’m incredibly lazy about certain things. It surprises many people to hear that I am sometimes too lazy to get food when I am hungry. My lazy trumps my hungry. Therefore I regularly skip meals because I don’t feel like going and getting them (even from the next room). While this trait limits my exercise time, it also limits my food intake. Maybe it evens out.

J.P. Battle

Although I can’t really say I’m “normal” I have always been thin. I haven’t had to really “try” to be thin because I’ve always naturally gravitated to healthy eating patterns and feel bad if I don’t. People who see me eat can’t believe I stay this thin – but they don’t pay attention to what I’m eating- just how much.

1. I eat whenever I’m hungry (if I can) to keep my blood sugar up- if I go too long without eating then I feel starved and will be more prone to eat something bad for me (or too much of a good thing) so I try not to get too hungry.

2. I usually snack on vegies, and sometimes fruits- believe it or not- because I’m lazy. You only need to wash fruit, and do minor slicing for raw vegetables. Sometimes I’ll microwave a big bowl of frozen green beans (slicing and washing already done for you) with a shake of seasoning on it for a snack. You can eat a huge amount of vegetables (if you go easy on sauces and seasonings) without incurring a lot of calories.

3. I have fruit everyday for breakfast. I might have some cereal or oatmeal too if I’m not going to be able to snack before lunch. My cereal is chosen to be high in fiber and protein – low in fat and sugar (Kashi Go Lean is a favorite, and Kix is my splurge).

4. I also eat tons of vegetables with dinner; I usually make at least two plain vegetables, and sometimes three or four. This bulks up the meal without adding too many calories. If I season the vegetables (which I often don’t- I just enjoy their natural flavor) I use garlic and olive oil, salt and pepper, vinegar, or occassionally a wee bit of butter. I don’t like meat all that much- and use it more of a condiment. That way, every meal (if I want) can have meat in it- but it is limited and not the main focus. Also, although making a big meal with the hopes of leftovers is a nice idea, for some families this never works out. My husband’s family always finished it all- no matter how big I made the meal. Making the meal smaller (or putting some of it away in the freezer before you serve) will keep second (and third) helpings down.

5. I make it a point to learn to like things that are good for me.

6. Finally, I drink mostly water, some juice, and lowfat milk or soymilk. I almost never drink sodas or other sugary drinks ( I try to keep my juice intake limited and eat the fruit whole instead which means more fiber and no added sugar). Cutting out sugary drinks is probably one of the simplest (but not necessarily easy) ways to reduce calories.

I have found that eating this way enables me to eat other things that I like without worrying gaining much weight. I get most of my satisfaction from high fiber, low calorie things and then have a little room left over for a piece of cheesecake or bread pudding or other little things that I like (another piece of fruit or a dipping sauce for bread of olive oil and spices).

It is important to make changes you can live with. Start small.

* Switch to lowfat milk (not directly to skim if you hate it, like me).
* Bring baby carrots with you on the run, or eat them at home when you feel like “munching”.
* Make yourself drink two full glasses of water for every other cup of liquid you drink.
* Cut out one thing from your diet that gives you the most calories (like soda).
* etc.
Don’t necessarily try to do everything at once. It can be overwhelming and make you feel very deprived. If you can be patient you can make many small changes in a row and then one day you’ll be doing things “effortlessly”.

Best of luck!

christine

i have always been thin.

i have been eating mostly vegetarian (some fish) for many years. fish maybe like twice a month. i avoid soy/tofu, wheat (unless its sprouted) and meat/dairy. occassionally i crave dairy and i only eat raw goat dairy, or eggs if they are local.

my diet consists of raw/living foods mostly. i usually eat smoothies with raw superfoods in them for breakfast, salads for lunch, and steamed veggies and grains for dinner.

some points to note:
-if you think you’re hungry, make sure your not just dehydrated
-snacks are usually just a handful of raw nuts or a piece or 2 of fruit
-NEVER eat after dark, its the body’s time to detox
-no fried foods
-no processed/packaged foods (hardly ever does my food come from a box or wrapper)
-you need a lot less food than you think
-you need a lot less protein than you think
-if you feel hunger shakiness, you are just detoxing

Kris

For the record, I’m a 43-year-old woman. Almost all through my teens, 20s, and early 30s, I could eat what and when I wanted and stay quite thin. I became vegetarian at the age of 29, stopped most fast food, but continued to eat a lot of junk (potato chips, candy, ice cream) for several years.

In my mid-30s I had a health problem and a few other issues in my personal life that led me to self-medicate with food. I became overweight for the first time in my life.

About four years ago, some of my girlfriends decided to go on a diet — South Beach, I think it was. None of them were more than a little overweight, and they exercised regularly (I didn’t yet). I had heard some negative things about the diet, so I did a little research and came across a book called Eat to Live. I decided to make the lifestyle changes recommended in the book rather than starting South Beach or any other diet. I had already recently stopped eating eggs (just because I stopped liking them), and decided to give up dairy, which was a big deal for me. I also eliminated all forms of processed sugars and grains (e.g., white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, white rice) and substituted them with whole foods (brown rice, whole grain flours, maple syrup, etc.). I ate lots of salads and other green vegetables. For breakfast, only fresh fruit, often blended in a blender (but with nothing added other than a bit of water). Snacks consisted of nuts, popcorn (popped in stove in olive oil), fruit, veggies, or the occasional homemade baked goods (made with whole wheat/whole grain flours, no eggs or dairy, and sweetened with maple syrup, agave nectar, or stevia). I starting losing about 1kg a week for a month or so and then plateaued.

In the last year or two, I’ve made more significant changes. I have continued the healthy diet: plant-based, whole foods, about 95% home-cooked, and I drink almost exclusively water with the occasional decaf coffee, soy or almond milk, tea, or beer. Now, however, I have added regular exercise. I get at least 50 minutes of moderate+ exercise 5-6 days/week, and I walk a LOT. Not only have I gotten back down to a very healthy weight, but I have also developed more lean muscle mass so I’m stronger and feel better and I have VERY healthy cholesterol levels. It’s very interesting to note that the dietary changes that I made 4 years ago had a great impact on my total cholesterol and triglycerides and a bit of an effect on my LDL, but the last year of exercise has further lowered the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and raised my HDL (the “good” one) by 20 points!

I am now a true believer in the powerful combination of a healthy diet (at least mostly plant-based, with little to no processed foodstuffs) and regular exercise. IT REALLY DOES WORK and is WORTH THE EFFORT. After time, it is no longer an effort. I don’t even think of things like cheesecake (a former favorite) as a treat any more because I’ve lost my taste for that kind of thing.

Tonia

Throw away or just hide the cookbooks! While healthy meal preparation should be a staple in those attempting to live concious lives cookbooks tempt us into making “wonderful looking” meals and scrumptious delights we normally would never fathom otherwise. Herein lies, in my beleif, the #1 downfall even if one is cooking lowfat/ healthy meals. Too much of a good thing is still too much!

I dont remember my mother ever using a cookbook to conjur up 20 different delictable ways to bake asparagus (for example) I simply remember simple meals and the concept to eat until your full not “until your plate is clean!”

Bill

We often eat on small plates, really helps with portion control.

Bill

Jo

I don’t believe in portion control if you are truly hungry. That’s just an external cue, but ultimately, how you feel is the best indicator of whether or not you should continue eating or be eating at all.

I think limiting “floury” foods (breads, pastas, cookies, cakes) to twice a week is probably best if one is trying to control bloat and avoid weight gain. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satisfied (not full), and if you’re hungry between meals, choose protein or fruits and vegetables. Limit sweets to once or twice a week, or just have a taste of what it is you want. Often we want to eat something sweet and decadent when we are not even hungry, so a spoonful of ice cream or a cookie or two is usually just enough to satisfy a craving. You get to satisfy your “taste hunger” without going overboard.

Exercise, of course, is important. 30 minutes a day is usually recommended. I like to do hand weights, and alternate between the upper and lower parts of my body every other day. I find that the more dedicated I am to exercising, the more in tune with my body I am..and the more in tune I am, the more likely I am to make better food choices, or at least, not overdo it.

The only drawback to all this is being sabotaged by your own thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had good intentions, and then have made every excuse as to why I must “pig out” (bad day at work, fight with a friend, etc)..so, for me, the biggest enemy is my thinking. All the common-sense planning and desires to eat healthier, “normal”, or balanced meals mean nothing if emotional eating gets in the way.

Anyway, good luck to you and your family! It’s hard to try and eat in a way that’s balanced and satisfying to everyone, but I think the more you do it and find your niche, the easier it becomes.

hillbillymomma

You can avoid a bunch of problems if you simply don’t eat much out of a can, a box or a crinkly bag. It’s cheaper too.

Dan the happy man.

Struggling? Its not easy, but it can become totally normal.
Try this out, it helped me, Im not over weight now, nor am I the fittest person around either, but im healthy.

Eat about 6 times a day but have small portions.
This speeds up your metabolism.
So about every 2 hours minimum. 8:00, 10:15, 12:30, 3:00, 6:00 and 8:00 as a rough guide.

Keep the meals through the day to the size of 1 regular sandwich or about the size of your fist. No larger.
The only exceptions are: You can have half as much more for lunch and two times as much for tea.
You don’t need much saturated fat or sugar in your diet at all.
Just cut the fat away, even though its nice.
Make 80% of your daily drinks water.
For Tea:
If eating red meat, it doesn’t need to be any larger than your hand, and no thicker.
And 1 cup of veggies or pasta(before it is cooked)is plenty on the side.
For Desert:
Keep those fatty and sugary deserts to 3 times a week maximum if you really think you need them, and substitute the other days with a handfull of something a bit more plain.

***Food is there to replace the energy we burn, if were not burning it, then we are storing it.***

It may seem hard to eat like “normal” people, but really there are millions of different ways we can eat our food, so it can still be fun to eat.
The hardest thing to do is to change your eating habbits.

Just don’t snack, or its keeping the habits going.
Dont buy food you dont need or might need.
If its not there to eat, you cant eat it.

Try to prepare and make your meals, at least you really know whats going into you body.

Once our stomachs shrink and are not stretched inside, we do not feel as hungry because its fuller after we eat.

And we all know that we need to exercise, sometime just eating less is not enough.
We dont have to go to a Gym, or run a marathon.
Hobbies and basic recreation is all we need, walking is one of the best exercises we can do.
Drive less, walk or ride a bike, its fun and you see new things all of the time.

So, once we start eating regular and smaller amounts, we end up with more energy, think more positively and have more fun because of it.

Now you have a choice: Can you eat like this today? Yes or No.

If yes, you have prepared yourself to do so.
If no, you probably cant or don’t want to.

But remember, everyone is different, what works well for some, does not work for others.
You may need to eat a bit more or less.

Over time you’ll understand what you body really needs or not. Ive done this for 2 years now and didn’t think I would make it through the first week.
Now eating like this is normal.

Happy eating!

lola

Hello,
i will just say how i eat.
I’m not overweight, and never have been.

First of all, i never eat junk food, because i don’t like it, nor diary products because i don’t like it too.
I’ve never liked soft drinks either since a kid.

I eat three regular meals everyday.

i have things like lentils, chickpeas or split peas, with rice, and vegetables.
I pour a lot of nutritional yeast on my plate.
I don’t really think about the size.
I just put a part of lentils, a part of rice, a part of vegetables, some oil, herbs, sesame seeds or some peanuts and that’s it.
Sometimes i want a dessert so i have one or two square of chocolate, or a piece of bread (homemade) with chocolate paste or peanut butter or margarine, or muesli (carman’s really healthy)
As for my” gouter” at 4 pm, it’s a fruit, or bread with chocolate, or some peanuts with a fruit, and sometimes a carrot cut into pieces because it’s very refreshing.

i stop eating when i feel full, and we always did it when i was a kid, so i guess it’s also part of my education.

In fact what i like is usually what is healthy.

Otherwise, i walk a lot and exercise 3 to 4 times a week,and walk because we have no car.

i eat out 1 or 2 times a month in a nice restaurant and have a good piece of meat, and a very good dessert.
And once in a while i have fries (in a restaurant) and i really enjoy it.
Otherwise i always cook my meals out of fresh vegetables .

Sachiko

I was a thin child, a chubby pubescant, an anorexic teen and a normal-overweight adult.

I married someone who’s been very thin all his life.

I eat tofu, green smoothies, salads, grilled lowfat meats, I grind my own flour and bake all our own whole wheat/oat/flaxseed baked goods. I make healthy veggie-ful soups and stews, I cook beans, we eat tofu, miso, etc. That’s all I eat. I work out daily 30-60 minutes, including weight training. I eat off baby-size plates 3-5 times a day. I drink 8 glasses of water daily with lemon. I drink green tea.

I don’t lose weight. In fact, I gain it. I’ve tried Atkins, South Beach, Body-For-Life, YOU on a Diet, etc. and each time I do not even lose weight before it goes back on–I gain it.

Multiple doctors assure me I’m very very healthy and not to worry about my weight so long as I’m exercising and eating well.

My husband, OTOH, is naturally cut and at 37 still wears the same clothes from when he was a jock in high school.

He either misses a day of meals, and then makes up for it the next day with massive overeating, or he subsists all day on hard candy, chocolate, donuts and bread, has dinner and then a big bowl of ice cream for dessert. It would make a nutritionist cry. I’ve almost cried once or twice, watching him.

And yet when his weight fluctuates it only drops. He has to work to maintain his low weight, to prevent it from becoming lower. His whole family is like this. They are thin and gorgeous into their 50′s and they eat hot dogs, chips, sugary pop, etc.

I’ve tried all the tricks, lifestyle changes, diets, exercise programs. I feel fitter but my size and weight only increase, regardless of my willpower–and I spent years starving myself as a teen, so I KNOW my willpower is not lacking.

My husband exercises twice a year and his muscles are still like steel. But he feels his health isn’t good, even though he looks fine (better than fine IMHO)

My opinion is that it’s all genetic.

Focus on getting healthy. Being thin doesn’t always mean healthy, it just means thin. Good luck, HTH.

Sandy L

My husband and I have always been normal weight until a couple of years ago. Now my body mass index is 26, so I’m on the border of being overweight. It’s 100% due to my decrease in workout time.

Our kids are not overweight, but they have very different eating habits. My younger one wants to eat all the time, the older one not so much.

Both kids love to be active and doing things outdoors, so that really limits their desire to snack. We do feed them more junk than we should be they also eat plenty of healthy snacks. Their favorites are yogurt, pretzels, cheese and any kind of fruit. Berries are their favorite.

We all love carbs and dairy, so I don’t know if I could do some of the diets above. I’m not the calorie counter type either. I find that if I just try to include veggies in every meal, we end up eating better overall. My kids would love to eat chicken fingers, pizza, and hot dogs at every meal but that’s a sign of a bad week if they’ve had more than one of these things on their menu.

We drink a lot of water too.

There is no forbidden food in our house, but the more junk food that is lying around, the more that ends up getting eaten.

Thevail

I’m not so sure how “normal,thin people” eat. I have to say I’m not even sure that being thin is normal in our society anymore.

I weigh 165lbs. and am 5’5″ tall. Technically I’m overweight, but I don’t look it, and my weight has stayed steady over the last 20 years.

I don’t buy much snack type food at all. And whatever I do buy is kept in a special cupboard. Everyone in the house knows that if you got it from that cupboard, it’s NOT good for you.

We have dessert about once every two weeks if that often, and it’s usually something like fresh fruit and whipped cream.Although the occasional chocolate doughnut has been known to happen. (one per person)

I always “plated up” the food and brought it to the table, but our table is a booth and there’s really not room for a bunch of serving dishes on it AND plates, glasses, silverware, etc. so that may just be incidental.

My advice is not to forget that what you’re eating is only one third of the equation. How and when you eat it matters too. And burning the calories consumed may matter even more. Exercise, the longest four letter word in the world, comes into play too.

I walk a couple of miles every day. Not “speed walking”, not “jogging”, or “running”, just plain old walking and it seems to have kept my weight stable for a long time.

Anyway, Good Luck!!

AV

Saw this today and was a bit surprised. I’ve been “thin” all my life and while some my see this as a joy or a gift believe you me sometime I don’t. My meals usually are colourful, that is there is a balance of everything on the plate, I eat meat and there is usually only one type of carbohydrate which is usually rice with some vegetable mixed in, Beans/peas and Salad. I just think that the more colourful it is the healthier it is also its more appealing to your visual senses. Dessert is not usually a part of my mealtime. I usually have that as an occasional in between meals. Also, whenever I feel hungry I usually drink a glass of whole milk and that keep me up between lunch and dinner. I know that this may not be much especially if you’re used to more at mealtime but maybe it can help. All things take time especially when your trying out something new. Another thing is that i usually have an appetizer about 1/2hr before my meals like few slices of apple and cheese and I drink only water with my meals. (these are only for lunch or dinner since i’m not much of a breakfast person I do try to have a cup of tea or coffee with an sandwich – no butter)

Melanie

Have you ever been forced to eat a meal slowly? Maybe you were on a first date and a little nervous, or having lunch with a friend where you did more talking than eatting. Maybe you didn’t even get to finish the meal that normaly you would have wolfed down with out a problem. Did you notice that you left feeling satisfied even though you ate less. Did you notice that you stayed satisfied longer? When you eat at your normal pace (fast) do you end up feeling hungry 2-3 hours later? Twelve years ago I lost 30 pounds by slowing down to a snails pace when eatting. I chewed a whole lot longer, I put my fork down between bites, I took more drinks between bites, and I stopped eatting just before I got full promising myself I could eat more later if I got hungry. Hungry meaning my stomach was growling. After making this behavior change, I realized I was leaving half or more of my food on my plate. I don’t count calories, I don’t obsess about eatting heathy (I eat both healthy and junk food), some times I exercise, sometimes I go weeks with out exercise. My point is, S L O W W A Y D O W N!! You will be shocked how easy the weight comes off and stays off. This blog is about simplicity. I don’t think you can get much more simple than this.