Pretty little gem-like tomatoes. Can't do summer without tomatoes!!!!!
I'm jumping in with a little post about something that I've been doing lately, found that it's been working well for us, and wanted to share it with you.
I don't know if schools even have Home Economics classes anymore, or if you remember your Home Economics class, or if you even learned anything from Home Economics!!! I certainly didn't learn much. But I was ALWAYS interested in it. I was in 4-H too and loved everything I learned through that. In fact, I wanted to BE a Home Economics teacher but it just didn't work out for me, so I practice in my own home on my own family. : )
I bring this up because I love reading cookbooks and books about nutrition - always have, always will. There is something about food that intrigues me. I'm very interested in how food works together to give us the proper nutrition we need to stay healthy. Food as medicine, so to speak. I'm not a nutritionist or in the medical field whatsoever, so everything I talk about in this post is only my take on things. Only you know what is best for you and your family. But my hope is that I can encourage each one of you to take a closer look at what you eat, but more importantly how MUCH you eat. That is what I'm going to discuss today. Portion control.
I've known for a while now that we, here at home, eat too much. And even though we aren't overweight, we could certainly benefit by loosing a few pounds. But, even at that, to me good nutrition isn't about weight loss, it's about maintaining health. Which takes me back to the point of what we learned (or should have) in Home Economics - and that is the Food Groups (which used to be the 4 food groups, but I call it 5) and what the "daily servings" amounts really are!
I never really thought about it too much until I was reading a book on nutrition and it was showing the amounts that we should be eating! Oh, no. You mean when I'm serving spaghetti sauce over pasta I'm supposed to only plate up 1/2 cup pasta and 1/2 cup sauce? I can't fill my entire plate with pasta and then put on as much sauce as I want?! How will I (we) ever survive on so little?! But wait.......you can and you will and you'll feel better for it.
Because when you plan your meals around the food groups, every meal will contain everything you need for good health and to take care of hunger. You will have the:
*Bread/cereal/grain group (which requires 6-11 servings/day)
*Vegetable group (which requires 3-5 servings/day)
*Fruit group (which requires 2-4 servings/day)
*Dairy group (which requires 2-3 servings/day)
*Protein group (which requires 2-3 servings/day)
In our home, I plan for three meals a day so I just do the math. But first I need to know what a serving really is. Let's take my spaghetti meal as an example:
*The bread/cereal/grain group would include 1/2 cup pasta and 1 slice of garlic bread = 2 servings
*The vegetable group would include 1 cup leafy greens and 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes = 2 servings
*The fruit group would include either 1 med. whole fresh fruit or 1 cup berries = 1 serving
*The dairy group would include 8 oz. milk, or 1 oz. of cheese, or 1 cup of a dairy dessert = 1 serving
*The protein group would be the scant 1/2 cup sauce w/meat = 1 serving
There is NO way that you could get up from the table with all the above food and still be hungry! That is what we've found out. Instead of the focus of the meal being the spaghetti with meat sauce and eating all you can with just that, we now focus on the whole instead of the part. It's in balance now because we've cut back on the main and inserted the others. Also, you can see that the serving portions are very small but when you put them all together it's more than enough! AND it's healthier because your body is getting more vitamins and minerals from eating a variety of foods.
I have to say that since doing this I can tell a difference in my skin, my nails, and my hair and even in my clothes! That is telling me that I was probably deficient in something before.
Again, you would obviously design your meals for whatever needs you have - dairy intolerance, gluten intolerance, diabetes, etc. There are some foods that react negatively to certain medications - but if you are one of those people you already know what to do in that area.
And, we stick only to three meals. My husband is more a snack person than I am, but I have my moments so I make sure that we have popcorn around or a bit of dark chocolate or seeds/nuts.
I'm not a diet person. I have never dieted. I know myself too well - I know that I wouldn't be able to stick to it. But I am a proponent of eating healthy. So we can take the spaghetti meal and add 2 more meals to it and see how we come up with the recommended daily requirements.
Let's start with breakfast: (I know there is such controversy over breakfast nowadays - no breakfast, late breakfast, etc.) - we have breakfast so I'm just going with what we do.
*The bread/cereal/grain group - 1 cup cold cereal, or 1/2 cup oatmeal along with 1 slice of toast = 2 servings
*The vegetable group - I don't incorporate any vegetables in our breakfast unless it's a weekend egg frittata that has mushrooms/spinach/peppers, etc. in it - so during the week there is no serving in this group, but on weekends I can add 1/2 cup cooked vegetables = 1 serving
*The fruit group - either 1 cup berries on your cereal, or 6 oz. orange juice, or 1/2 banana, or 1/2 grapefruit, or 2 Tbsp. of raisins on your oatmeal = 1 serving
*The dairy group - 8 oz. milk on the cereal = 1 serving
*The protein group - 2 Tbsp. peanut butter on your toast = 1 serving
Now.....on to lunch:
*Bread/cereal/grain group - 2 slices of whole grain bread for a sandwich = 2 servings
*The vegetable group - 1 cup leafy greens with 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes = 2 servings
*The fruit group - 1 medium whole fruit, or 1 cup berries, or 15 grapes = 1 serving
*The dairy group - 1 8 oz. glass of milk, or 8 oz. of cottage cheese, or 1 oz. of cheese, or cup of a dairy dessert = 1 serving
*The protein group - 3 oz. of meat on your sandwich, or 2 eggs on your sandwich = 1 serving
Let's do the math.
For the 3 meals in one day you will get:
6 servings of the bread/cereal/grain group - the daily requirement is 6 - 11 servings
5 servings of the vegetable group - the daily requirement is 3 - 5 servings
3 servings of the fruit group - the daily requirement is 2 - 4 servings
3 servings of the dairy group - the daily requirement is 2 - 3 servings
3 servings of the protein group - the daily requirement is 2 - 3 servings
You have met your daily requirements, your meal is balanced, your body is getting the nutrition.
If you're thinking that this is a LOT of work. It is. But it can be done. In my last post I said that I was tired of reading labels but that is for looking at unacceptable ingredients. I read the labels for the serving size written on the container. That is where you can get the amount that you are supposed to eat. Go by that information and incorporate it into your meals. I think that's the first step. Next, I'm beginning to take some of our favorite meals and writing menus out for each meal and what I would serve that with - writing down the appropriate amounts of the food groups. And, then, being mindful of what you're serving and how much when you actually have the meal in front of you. After a while, you will just come to know the serving size without really thinking about it.
I know a lot of people do NOT like to write menus. They like to just have a lot of food on hand and whatever they feel like having that day is what they will cook. Schedules DO change and what you had planned on one day may not happen and you have to opt for something else. That's totally okay because this isn't meant to be limiting, it's meant to make sure that we're getting the nutrition we need and you can do that by planning or by winging it because it comes down to portion control and balance. Think of all the food we have to choose from!!! There is no way that this kind of eating is limiting.
The bread group can include whole grain bread, bagels, healthy cereals, oatmeal, rice, pasta, cornmeal, barley, quinoa, English muffins, pancakes, waffles, crackers (even the occasional cinnamon roll!). Just remember the proportion.
The vegetable group can include green peas, spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, celery, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet peppers, squash, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, jicama, pumpkin, potatoes (although use these sparingly)
The fruit group can include bananas, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes, pears, raspberries, blueberries, apples, strawberries, prunes, cranberries, lemons, kiwi.
The dairy group can include milk, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, cheese, vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, pudding, smoothies.
The protein group can include poultry, fish, red meat, eggs, beans, shrimp, crab.
Such a variety of food. You can't get bored because each of these can be prepared in so many wonderful ways and the different menus would be endless.
Other foods that are good for us are what we use to cook with such as garlic and onions, the different herbs and spices, dried fruit, beverages such as herbal teas and green tea.
Some make-ahead tips for all of this are:
*hard boiling a dozen eggs for the week - they come in so handy for that protein need and can be eaten for breakfast, or for an egg sandwich, or on top of a main-dish salad.
*wash and cut up the fruits and vegetables - they will be ready to eat or cook with at a moments notice. The only fruit that I don't cut up in advance is watermelon. When it's cut up and sits in it's own juice, it gets pretty mushy after a while - so cut up just enough needed for when you're serving it.
*go through all the recipes that you will make your menus from and be sure you have all the ingredients you need for the week.
Well, I think that's all I have for you. Again, I'm not an expert at this but I did want to share what works for us and maybe encourage you to look at the food you are serving but portioning it as well. I know for us, we just got used to serving up as much as we wanted and then even going back for seconds!!! WAY too much. It's not good to get up from the table feeling stuffed. There should still be a little wiggle room. : ) For some, it may be wise to talk to a certified nutritionist that could walk through your daily dietary needs to make sure you are getting the most out of your food. I just can't afford to do that so I'm just trying to be wise in it all. Like you, we know what foods don't cooperate with our bodies. Our son can't eat beans - he's allergic to them. And we know what foods we absolutely do not like - it's peaches for me!!!! Ick.
So, you know your family and you know what works!!! Please let me know how you plan YOUR meals. : ) Have fun with this.
God bless. Thanks for taking the time to read my post!