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

Annie Bee blog signature

 

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

Annie Bee blog signature

Habits: Hard To Form? Hard To Break? ~ The Impact On Dieting

Parents try to instil habits in the tiniest of babies – we bath a newborn at bedtime partly in the hope that it becomes a cue for a good night’s sleep and, later, a habit. Many habits start in early childhood: cleaning your teeth, eating nicely at the table, saying “please” and “thank you”. Those are the good ones. Bad ones – biting your nails for example, a habit I eventually conquered at the ripe old age of 31 – also often start in childhood. Once they are entrenched, new behaviours are terribly difficult to adopt. This makes the whole challenge of dieting both interesting and hugely difficult. Once the bad habits become ingrained into your subconscious, they become ‘learnt’ behaviours and are really tricky to quash.

Aristotle Quote

Some years ago some self-help bods started bandying about the phrase that it took 21 days to form (or indeed break) a habit. Research in 2009 at University College London, however, (‘Intervention Based on the Principles of Habit Formation’ published in the European Journal of Social Psychology) showed that actually it takes an average 66 days for people to perform an initially new behaviour.

Habits are behaviours which are performed automatically because they have been performed frequently in the past. This repetition creates a mental association between the situation (cue) and action (behaviour) which means that when the cue is encountered the behaviour is performed automatically. Automaticity has a number of components, one of which is lack of thought.

They suggested that because bad habits are very difficult to break, one helpful way of conquering this is to take control of your environment so you don’t encounter the cue which acts as a trigger. The research also highlighted that while being wildly inconsistent meant no change to habits, the odd inconsistency was not the end of the world. So we need commitment, but not necessarily a 100% track record. Many women on diets think all is lost if they have a bad day. We need to change that mindset and keep looking forward.

habits

There is undoubtedly truth in the argument that most diets fail and if we want to lose weight, eat healthier and feel leaner and fitter, we need to make a lifestyle choice, not reach for a short-term solution.

I firmly believe that much of this can be answered by strict portion control. In his book “Mindless Eating”, Brian Wansink argues that just an extra 10 calories a day will make you gain a pound in one year. So there appears to be a small margin of error, but this should give us all hope. If you missed my info on Portion Distortion, please have a read: http://wp.me/p5MNeq-2r

Lifestyle change and a long-term outlook then is the answer: breaking bad habits, making new ones and sticking with them once and for all. Diets which work over a long period of time and which become a way of life are ones which suit the dieter and which don’t require too much aggravation and thought. For me, the Side Plate Diet is a winner (see http://wp.me/p5MNeq-2). I eat what I want and enjoy my food, but I simply restrict the amount. Let me know if you are giving it a try.

What experience have you had with habit-breaking and habit-forming? How has it impacted on your diet? Please feel free to comment – I would love to hear from you.

Change ahead

Annie Bee x

Annie Bee signature

The Side-Plate Diet: Breakfasts

In previous posts I have talked generally about the Side-Plate Diet and the business of which side plate  to use (size matters) and how many – I am currently on 3 a day but once or twice a week add another (albeit with an apple and a small handful of nuts on it, so still nice and healthy).

So now for the nitty-gritty of what to actually put on the side-plates during the day so that you are optimally healthy but losing weight.

The beauty of this diet is that you are essentially eating perfectly normal food, you are just constraining the amount by imposing strict portion control. Get your 3 (or 4) plates out first thing in the morning and take pictures of each meal as you go along. Remember, there is evidence to show that by keeping a diary of your food intake, you will increase the likelihood of weight loss. The best way I have found is taking snaps on my phone. If you have got a diet-buddy, send them to him or her, or indeed send them to me.

Let’s start with breakfast: Once you begin the Side-Plate Diet, you will definitely be nice and hungry by the time breakfast comes around. The question of whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day now appears to be moot (have a read of this information from the NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/08august/pages/breakfast-not%20the-most-important-meal-of-the-day.aspx ) but I LOVE breakfast, so here are half a dozen suggestions for brekkies which fit nicely on a side-plate and should keep you going until lunch.

1. Half a bagel with low-fat cream cheese and smoked salmon. This is probably more of a once-a-week treat, or brunch out with friends.

smoked salmon on bagel

2. One poached egg on a bed of spinach

Paleo-Spinach-and-Poached-Eggs-image

3.My go-to, quick and easy breakfast choice: Bircher Muesli or normal healthy cereal http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2014/oct/23/how-to-make-perfect-bircher-muesli-recipe with honey, berries and seeds or nuts on top. Use a dipping bowl or small teacup for this. I recommend using oats (in my case I am extremely lucky to be a coeliac who can tolerate gluten free oats) as they contain slow release energy. These pictures below show the layers of food I put in my dipping bowl which, by the way, is 4.25 inches across at the top. Almond-milk soaked oats + pomegranate seeds + raspberries + blueberries + topped with flaked almonds.

breakfast 1

breakfast 2

breakfast 3

breakfast 4

breakfast 5

4. One slice of wholemeal toast with enough baked beans to cover. (Don’t overload)

62_beansontoast

5. Low fat Greek Yoghurt (which has twice as much protein as regular yoghurt) topped with berries, a few toasted almonds and some seeds.

greek yoghurt

6. One slice of wholemeal toast with peanut butter or jam or honey on.

toast on side-plate

You can see in that photo that I have the plates out ready for the day ahead. I think I can see four. By the way, I very rarely drink juice or smoothies, but if you do want to, on the Side-Plate Diet, make sure it is in a small glass (see below). Even something as healthy as a freshly made fruit or vegetable juice smoothie needs to have portion control imposed on it.

smoothie pic

The thing to remember though is this: whatever you normally have for breakfast, as long as it isn’t a Mars Bar, or a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s, if you put it onto a side-plate or into a dipping bowl, you are most likely cutting down on your calorie intake. You will lose weight on this diet if you stick to this imposed portion control. However, nobody wants to feel faint or weak from lack of food, so you may need to adjust the number of side-plates you use. There are lots of variables: your metabolism, the amount of exercise you take and your age being the three most obvious. I definitely don’t need the amount of food I used to eat in my 30s and 40s. It has taken me a while to accept that, but there we are.

Also, don’t eat between the side-plate meals under any circumstances. Not so much as one grape!

This diet works!

Good luck and watch out for some lunch ideas coming soon.

green bee for signature copy

Annie Bee x

More pics of healthy breakfast ideas here: https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/healthy-breakfasts/

The Side-Plate Diet: Portion Distortion

In my first two blogs (see the February archive on the right of this post) I was talking in fairly general terms about portion sizes, plate sizes, obesity and the simplicity of my Side-Plate Diet.

In this piece, I want to discuss Portion Distortion. No matter how healthily you might be eating, if you eat too much and take in too much fuel and fail to burn it, you will put on weight.

Over ten years ago the UK charity, The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) http://www.wcrf-uk.org/ reported that over the previous 20 years food portions got ever bigger. Burgers were 112%  larger than in 1982, pasta servings 480% larger, and chocolate chip cookies 700% bigger. The UK Government has not updated their information on typical portion sizes consumed in the UK for over 20 years.

Dr Jeffrey Prince of the WCRIF said: “Between 1980 and  2003 portion sizes ballooned, and so did people. These two trends occurred simultaneously. Common sense tells you there must be a connection. Most weight loss success stories centre around reduced portion sizes. It’s a simple fact, if you eat less, you’ll lose excess weight”. Since then, things have probably got even worse regarding serving sizes, but the adage ‘eat less, lose weight’ remains true.

increase-in-portion-sizes

Packaging of our food plays an important role. The bigger the package, the more food you’ll pour out of it. When two groups of people were given 1/2 lb or 1 lb bags of M&Ms to eat while watching TV, those given the 1-pound bag ate nearly twice as much. The more you load onto your plate, the more you will eat. There are many studies to back this up (for more in-depth research take a look here: http://www.ifst.org/knowledge-centre/information-statements/psychology-food-intake-and-portion-control ). The NHS recommends, in their information on dieting, that we should be eating with smaller plates and bowls.

Previous Annie Bee  posts which cover this topic, in case you missed them, are here:

http://wp.me/p5MNeq-2

http://wp.me/p5MNeq-d

By only eating off side-plates like I do (for me, 3 a day means I am slowly losing the weight I need to without feeling weak and feeble – clearly the number of side plates will change depending on your gender, age, size etc and I am NOT advocating doing this diet if you do not need to lose weight in a sensible manner) this problem with portion distortion is largely solved for you. NB: I use 7 inch side-plates – make sure you get the size right. There are challenges around ensuring you still get enough fruit and veg, and keeping your food intake healthy and balanced but as long as you don’t snack (I literally now don’t so much as pick up an extra cherry tomato while walking past the fruit bowl) this diet works.

Other bits of diet advice which seem to be universal are: Eat slowly. Put your cutlery down between bites. Don’t eat in front of the TV.

Look out very soon for more in-depth information on the Side-Plate Diet  and let me know if you are giving it a go. I would love to receive some photos too.

vintage

There are some more pics you might like here https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/portion-distortion/

green bee for signature copy

Annie Bee x

When Is A Side-Plate Not A Side-Plate?

According to Wiki, a side-plate (sometimes also called an appetiser plate, a dessert plate, a breakfast plate or a salad plate) can vary from 4 to 9 inches (10-22cm) across. Clearly if you are going to have a go at the Side-Plate Diet, size is a crucial point, although hopefully any side-plate is smaller than a normal dinner plate which you would otherwise be eating off. I have pretty much always eaten lunch and dinner on a normal dinner plate, on top of which (being a fairly greedy kind of gal) giving myself as much food as my husband (Mr Bee, who runs 6 miles a day and works full-time). The psychology of this fascinates me: I am pretty sure I felt that I ‘deserved’ as much food as he was getting. But we all know that women need fewer calories than men, on top of which there is the ever important aspect of Calories Out which I touched on in the first blog. More of that later.

The beauty of the Side-Plate Diet is this: you used to eat amount every day off bigger plates. By eating off a small plate, you are cutting down on portion size and, so long as you are not putting a large slice of coffee and walnut cake onto that side-plate, this will definitely mean fewer Calories In. Bingo. Weight loss.

Back to plates: according to Google, in the 1960s, dinner plates were roughly 9 inches in diameter. In the 1980s, they grew to around 10 inches. By the year 2000, the average dinner plate was 11 inches in diameter, and now, it’s not unusual to find dishes that are 12 inches or larger. I imagine in the 1950’s these would have been called a platter, and yet, here we are putting our dinners on them. No wonder we are piling on the pounds. I was out with a colleague a few weeks ago who, on seeing my medium-sized coffee (not the large, the size of which resembles a soup bowl) said we are now dealing with American sizes, even for coffee. She is right. A large Coke, at the cinema for example, is enormous – way too much surely.

By changing the portion size you change the amount you consume. No counting, no faddy protein-only, fruit -only, fat-free, juice -only; no meal replacements, no weighing your food, no supplements. Many of these diets (and I have tried a few) are unsustainable; you will get an initial weight loss but where are you 4 months down the line or, more to the point, 12? They are hard to make work in the office, or eating out. With the Side-Plate Diet you eat  exactly what you would have been eating, but on a small (I would suggest 7 inch) side-plate.

In my house we have blue Denby crockery (it is sturdy, practical and virtually indestructible) and it has done a very fine job for us for the last 15 years, but I like the idea of eating off pretty, maybe vintage, (maybe very modern  – depending on my mood) side plates. You do need to be careful of the size though. I looked at some from John Lewis, but when I read the dimensions closely, although called a side-plate, they were much bigger than 7 inches across.

What about breakfast I hear you say? What about soup? I use little dipping bowls.  original_set-of-four-japanese-dipping-bowls6110184745_54d485544a_z

  Alternatively you could use a vintage tea-cup. Just don’t use a normal sized bowl. Remember: portion control. The other fascinating benefit I have found is that by putting these plates and bowls out first thing in the morning, psychologically I know where I stand. It is those plates, no others. Nothing in between. I do not spend my time thinking about food, as I have parameters in which to stay – those plates. It works for me; let me know if you try it and how you get on and do send in your pics. 

Thanks for reading. Let me know how you get on.

green bee for signature copy

ANNIE BEE x

https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/side-plates/

The Side-Plate Diet: The Background

Most of us who are even slightly overweight are aware that, although no doubt a  complex area from a medical/nutrition point of view, our weight comes down to Calories In, Calories Out. As a neighbour of mine pointed out once, when I had exclaimed about her marvellous weight-loss (and rather put me in my place), “it’s not rocket science”.

Indeed it is not, and yet why do so many of us struggle with our weight? And I do not just mean middle-aged women like me; obesity (the description of which, on the NHS website, is  ‘somebody who is very overweight, with a lot of body fat. It’s a common problem, estimated to affect around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11 in the UK’) is one of the biggest problems facing the long-term health of the population in the UK today.

The Guardian recently reported, “The UK has higher levels of obesity and overweight people than anywhere in western Europe except for Iceland and Malta, according to an authoritative global study that raises fresh concerns about the likely health consequences”. And from The Lancet: ” Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene.”

We know that the Calories Out bit is to do with burning the fuel which is our food; also not a simple issue (we are all different with different abilities, different metabolisms and definitely different levels of motivation) but essentially we all know we need to be ACTIVE. (The additional health benefits impact on our chances of getting cancer, dementia and a whole host of problems).

For the purposes of this piece, it is the Calories In bit which I want to share some ideas with you about. We are bombarded with information on healthy eating, diets, fitness regimes, super-foods etc. I went onto Amazon UK and found there were in excess of 131,000  diet books to be had  – it is mind-boggling to think how much more information is out there on the internet about the subject. How may different diets can you name? How many have you been on? Has the weight-loss been maintained? (If the answer to that last question is ‘yes’, well done). Has a diet you have been on left you feeling weak and pathetic rather than strong and healthy?

To make things simple I have devised the Side-Plate Diet: no calorie counting, no eating different things from the rest of the family, no need for bizarre ingredients (unless that is what makes you tick), but rather finding the “Golden Mean” –  the desirable middle  ground between the extremes of deficiency (not enough food) and excess (over-eating).  Healthy eating but with portion control at the forefront of the approach. I came across one diet (which no doubt has its avid followers and no doubt works for some people) which seems to use little ladles of different colours in which foods must be weighed, added up before being turned into a meal (not to mention you have to buy these cute little ladles). By limiting yourself to a set number of side-plates per day, being sensible (yes, I know, a Mars Bar fits very nicely onto a side-plate – the occasional treat is OK but this is a diet), and sticking to nutritious, balanced foods, you avoid the danger of over-eating and, very importantly (a problem for so many of us and certainly me) snacking.

Research has long highlighted  that people who keep a record of what they eat and drink and how active they are – known to health professionals as ‘self-monitoring’ have more weight-loss success. With the Side-Plate Diet I would urge you to keep a photo diary every day: unless you are a Luddite, chances are you, or somebody who lives in your house, will have access to a digital camera (preferably on your mobile phone). By taking pictures of the plates, you can see just how well you are doing but also analyse whether you are still managing to get enough fruit and veg, what the level of carbs are (it is easy to think that a piece of toast fits well onto a side plate and make that the basis of your meals) but also share what you are eating with others (including me). If taking pics is a problem, write it down.

My next piece will be “What Exactly Is A Side-Plate” – you probably think that sounds mad, but let me tell you, size matters! Also coming soon: Being Active, Portion Distortion, Calories Out.

Thanks for reading.

green bee for signature copy

ANNIE BEE X