The Side-Plate Diet: New Research On Portion Sizes

Hello friends

As many of you know, I am a keen proponent of losing weight, or keeping weight off, by controlling your portion sizes. You eat normally (though healthily) but use smaller plates to impose control over your food intake. This has worked extraordinarily well for me. I started doing The Side Plate Diet about eleven months ago and it has transformed by body and my relationship to eating.

The BMJ this week reports that

~ Theresa Marteau from the University of Cambridge and colleagues recently published a Cochrane review that found the “most conclusive evidence to date” that people consume more food or drinks from larger size portions or packages, and when using larger items of tableware.

Additionally, they say that reducing portion sizes may mean going back to the noticeably smaller tableware which was being used in the 1950s, and suggest that one change which could make a difference would be,

 ~ Designing tableware to encourage smaller mouthfuls, such as, shallow plates, straight sided glasses, cutlery.

My views and information on plate sizes, if you want to read more, are here. And if you are worried about your weight and would like to try The Side Plate Diet, use the search bar at the right of the blog, and have a look at this.

This new research has some great suggestions and is taking a very sensible and longer-term view about reducing over-consumption and preventing obesity. The most recent statistics showing the problem in the UK of childhood obesity are, frankly, alarming.

The possibility of a new sugar-tax being implemented is also currently at the top of the agenda here, but we have a long way to go.

side plate diet

Using smaller plates is a very easy approach to dieting. It works.

Please share the buzz ~

Annie Bee x

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Brilliant Idea: Free Fruit Bonanza

Sometimes you see a new idea which is so brainy, it makes your eyes water.

In the UK, Woolworths is sadly a thing of the past. Many of us still fondly remember Ladybird kids clothes and  Pick’n’Mix. It is a thriving supermarket chain in other countries though, and has recently successfully trialled offering a free piece of fruit to all kids entering all of its (961) Australian stores, from a complimentary basket of apples, pears, bananas and mandarins. The idea was originally put to the test in their New Zealand shops (which trade as Countdown) and seems to be popular. Woolies expect to be giving away about one million pieces of fruit a year and assures consumers that the cost of fruit will not rise to compensate.

If you have ever had a child in tow who could name 107 places they’d rather be than in a supermarket with Mummy (unless she is going to provide biscuits/sweets/chocolate/magazine and toys from the shelves at will) the offer of a piece of fruit sounds to me like a welcome initiative. Anything to help keep mum sane and Little Jonnie happy.  And of course this option is healthy, one of your 5-a-day, and it will presumably encourage the habit of healthy snacking when sitting in the trolley. Better than a packet of Wotsits.

Tesco has already trialled it here in the UK at one, forward-thinking store in Lincolnshire and have decided to roll it out to 15 Glasgow branches. Hopefully it will  prove popular enough to go nationwide.

It won’t end  the sound of the screaming kid in the trolley ~ and lord knows we have all been there. It might help though and I imagine it could be an incentive for parents to shop at that supermarket rather than another. Let’s see.

supermarket children

My own trips to the supermarket are a bit like Groundhog Day but without the humour. Or romance. I might not be screaming out loud  but inside my head there is often an ear-piercing silent yell. Perhaps the free piece of fruit will eventually be offered not just kids but exasperated shoppers in their 50s. We can but hope. Great if you are on a diet. Blood sugar dropped? Have an apple. Feeling rough after a long night at the bar? Help yourself to a banana. Bored with the duties of being the Fridge Fairy? Here’s a pear.

I think it could work.

Annie Bee x

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New Research On The Importance Of Portion Sizes

Some of the news headlines today about a new piece of research (which is in fact a round up of 61 previous studies) are,

 ~ Portion size key in tackling obesity, says study

 ~ Growing portion sizes a major factor in rising UK obesity, study finds

 ~ End to supersizing could reverse obesity trend

 ~ Want To Lose Weight? Buy Smaller Plates!

The Cambridge University led team of researchers says that by simply replacing large sizes of foods and drinks with standard amounts, British consumers could reduce overall calorie intake by up to 16 per cent. Over a year, that could result in weight loss of around two stone. If American adults did the same, they could reduce their intake by 22%-29%.

One of the ways of achieving this, the authors say, is by shifting away from a culture of large dinner plates, wine glasses and “supersize” portions. They found that people offered portions of food or crockery in larger sizes “consistently” consumed more of what they were given.

Add to this the well-documented evidence that portion sizes of packaged foods have increased substantially, and you have a recipe for trouble. My blog post The Side Plate Diet: Portion Distortion from earlier this year cites a number of pieces of research on the subject.

side plate diet portion distortion

Of today’s news, Dr Alison Tedstone, the chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “This study clearly demonstrates that reducing portion sizes is a successful way to cut calories. Given that almost two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, it’s important to keep an eye on portion sizes when cooking, shopping and eating out to avoid overeating and help maintain a healthy weight.” You can find the full research on the Cochrane Library webiste.

Well you could always try my simple solution, which is to eat all your meals off a side plate. How small will it need to be? Have a read of my Side Plate blog post.

It has worked for me  ~ I am a very healthy weight and I am eating perfectly normal, healthy food; in addition, I am avoiding adding a layer of what I regard as complication, such as calorie counting, fasting, or the cutting out of one food group (for example carbs).

Give it a go. I can highly recommend it. And please share the buzz!

side plate diet

side plate diet

Annie Bee x

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Willpower ~ How Does It Work?

I have been giving a lot of thought to the question of willpower. I can’t say I have it in abundance, but when I do decide to do something (even if it is after many years of not doing anything), I do seem to be able to stick to my guns. So much about our health (by which here I mean diet and exercise) comes down to that often elusive willpower.

Anyone with a slightly addictive personality (which refers to a particular set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to developing addictions) will know about hitting rock bottom. There is often a trigger for deciding that enough is enough, whether it relates to drugs, alcohol abuse or over-eating. These triggers are very personal, but in my experience there comes a moment of compete clarity after which you know change MUST take place. It is only then that you take control of the problem and make changes.

Firstly then, what exactly is willpower?

The American Psychological Association calls willpower

the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.

From what I have researched on the subject, willpower has a finite supply. You therefore need to use it wisely, which is a nuisance frankly. I won’t be the only person out there who has thought it was a bottomless well and the issue was how you can harness as much as possible. On the flip-side, the good news is that you can work on building strategies to improve your use of it.

willpower

One interesting aspect of willpower is that people will often use up the limited supply on family and professional matters, leaving little for themselves. After a taxing day at the office, or with the kids, it is far more difficult to then find the time to keep on making good decisions about food. A recent study showed that people faced with a very stressful work-related task who were then asked to choose between different foods tended to make less healthy choices. Personally I think this is also compounded by the reasoning that a difficult day requires reward. You have had a very tough day at work, or dealing with 3 kids under the age of 7, or 2 moody teenagers, and a large glass of wine at 5.30pm (“the sun is over the yardarm somewhere”) sounds infinitely justifiable. Or, in food terms, you have a had the day from hell in the workplace, so you decide that a takeaway curry will cheer you up instead of the omelette and salad you had originally planned.

So willpower is definitely a tricky one: it is limited and it can be sabotaged fairly easily too. Sounds like other strategies are required. What are some ways of improving your chances of making best use of willpower when it comes to dieting?

  • Have a long-term, achievable goal. Are you going to a wedding in November, to which you would dearly love to get back into your favourite dress? Perhaps you want to be able to run a 5K next year and have realised that shedding some weight will make that goal a great deal easier to achieve? Make a record of your achievements as you go along and set yourself a goal you can meet.
  • Stay well rested. Over-tired people make bad decisions.
  • If you have a bad day, and your diet has seemingly gone out the window, put it behind you. It is done, nothing can be achieved by dwelling on it (except perhaps to work out why it happened and try to take steps to avoid making that mistake again – learn from it). Get back on track and don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Minimise temptation. We are expecting a lot from willpower – don’t make it doubly hard by putting temptations in your way.

determination

I don’t want to sound preachy, but for those people who say “I simply don’t have the willpower” I would say this: you haven’t hit your rock bottom yet. When you do, and you decide to take control, have an achievable plan and work hard. The benefits are joyous.

Annie Bee x

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You Cannot Get Fat Without Eating Too Much

happy Sunday

Sundays can be a bit of a mixed bag really. They can be slow and without purpose. They can be full of dread for the week ahead. They can be a day of dashed hope ~ you plan for brunch in the garden and it turns out to be cold and wet as it is here in the ‘burbs today (many degrees below the July norm).

They can also be a day of resolution, particularly when it comes to fitness, health, dieting and wellbeing. All diets start on a Monday – every woman knows that and those decisions for a NEW YOU tend to be formulated on a Sunday. You resolve to change your attitude to all sorts of things on a Sunday – how tidy you keep the kitchen, cooking pancakes from scratch instead of buying them pre-packaged, building a new veg patch in a sunny bit of the garden. But surely more than anything else, losing weight.

One of the most sensible and interesting exponents of diet and health in the UK is Susan Jebb OBE, who is a nutrition scientist, and the Professor of Diet and Population Health at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford; she is also the UK Government’s advisor on obesity. Her many years of research on human metabolism has proved without a doubt that you

………. cannot get fat without eating too much .

Metabolism is a bit of a red herring in her view and energy intake is KEY: she says that ultimately, obesity is about food intake. Other factors (physical exercise, metabolism etc.) play a relatively small role.

If you are thinking about your weight, diet and health this Sunday I urge you to have a look at my previous posts on the side plate diet (see the Search Buzz Subjects bar on the right) and follow my instagram posts (Annie Bee on instagram ) which will help to show how easy it is to follow.

Side Plate Diet breakfast

Side Plate Diet lunch pic

Hope you are having a pleasant and fruitful Sunday.

Annie Bee x

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The Side -Plate Diet ~ What To Do On Holiday

Hello from Sri Lanka !

I am in an odd situation whereby I am away from home for the best part of six weeks. This is due to a once-only opportunity to visit my family in Australia, nip across to NZ where I was born and brought up (but left for the UK in 1977), pick up one of the Baby Bees after her year abroad and then meet up with the rest of the Bees for our 2 week annual summer holiday.

Having started The Side- Plate Diet on January 6th, I had slimmed down considerably during the 6 months before my travels began. Would it be easy to stick to it while away? Well, it has been a mixed bag.

Eating with my family while abroad has been easy: they understood I was watching portion-sizes. Self-catering motels were also simple and when eating out, I would just have a starter –  sometimes with a treat of a side of fries. I have not wanted to be massively strict on the odd occasion when a lovely meal out with family and friends was on the cards. Not feeling guilty and getting back on track is the best plan.

The biggest problem has been the buffet meals at the 2 hotels we have stayed at here in Sri Lanka. You would have to have an iron will not to want to try lots of the wonderful foods on offer, particularly when they are in a new cuisine  (Sri Lankan cuisine has influences from colonial powers, foreign traders and Southern India. Key ingredients are rice, coconut and spices, reflecting the island’s history as a spice producer and trading post over several centuries) and you are here for the total holiday experience ~ food included. The hotel we are in now has a superb chef who, knowing I have Coeliac Disease, keeps making me special plates of the most amazing concoctions. For breakfast this morning, for example, he presented me with rice flour pancakes with a filling of chopped banana and desiccated coconut + honey paste. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My intention to just have a small plate of fresh pineapple with a small serving of yoghurt was nowhere to be seen.

buffet

healthy buffet

buffet

Buffets are essentially tables laden with food, most of which one wants to try, and there can’t be many people who don’t find themselves over-doing it, given the self-service nature of the beast. The term buffet originally referred to the French sideboard furniture where the food was served, but eventually became applied to the serving format. It also used to be an opportunity to show off one’s wealth (both with the food and the vessels in which it was presented) and it is, at this hotel anyway, a chance for the chef and his kitchen staff to really show off their considerable skills.

The Buffet (Jean-Louis Forain) 1884

The Buffet (Jean-Louis Forain) 1884

I am not proud to admit as well that there is also an element of “all you can eat for the set price”…. let’s pig out while we have the chance and we aren’t eating/paying a la carte. Sad, I know.

overeating

So there is no doubt that for at least 2 of the 6 weeks I am away from home, I will be eating more calories than I had been doing. I guess the trick is to try and compensate (tomorrow is another day), love the freedom of being on holiday, not worry about a few pounds going on, and know that when back home, this morning’s breakfast will be the stuff of dreams.

Annie Bee x

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To Weigh Or Not To Weigh?

I was listening last week to Clare Balding on R4’s Woman’s Hour chatting about the Oxford and Cambridge Women’s Boat Race. This year it took place on the Thames for the first time ever, and occurred on the same day (Saturday 11th April) as the men’s.  What interested me was that Clare Balding had been along to the weigh-in and was pointing out that while the rowers are all quite small women, they do weigh a fair amount. They are small, lean and full of muscle.

Ox and Camb weigh in

This reminded me of a diet and fitness statement one often hears bandied about: a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat. Well, no. They weigh the same. But the point (which is correct) is that muscle is about 18% more dense than fat and one pound of muscle occupies less space (volume) than one pound of fat.

These pictures illustrate the point.

Muscle V Fat

same weight pic

Some people weigh themselves every day, and there is research to show that they do in fact lose the most weight. The research was published in 2014 in the online publication PLOS One (you can access it here http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113164). Although a relatively small number of people took part (40) there are two or three other studies which show much the same thing.

I NEVER weigh myself. I did get super slim aged about 20 and enjoyed jumping on scales as often as possible, but the more I weigh, the less happy I am to know the truth. When I am forced onto the scales (perhaps at the hospital or by the GP), thankfully very rarely, I look off into the middle distance with a thoughtful, intelligent look in my eye and pray I am not going to get a lecture from the health professional. Often it is in kgs anyway, which is complete gobbledy-gook to me.

scales

I have lost weight recently (see posts on the Side Plate Diet) but am still going nowhere near the scales. For me it is all about how I feel, how I look, and how my clothes are fitting. Also how much muscle I have – the aim is to be lean and fit. Bring it on.

Let me know if you weigh yourself, how often, and whether it is motivating – does it make or break your day? Do you calculate your BMI? Or do you have your body fat percentage measured?  I am not sure I am brave enough to face those body fat calipers just yet, but you never know.

calipers

Annie Bee x

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