What is Portion Fixing?
I am by no means a nutrition expert, but I do make a conscious effort every day to make healthy choices. I’m not looking to lose weight, but I am aware that as you age, your metabolism slows down and you simply cannot eat junk and not pay the price in some way, shape or form - whether that be added pounds where you really don’t want them or grumbly guts from over-indulging. It kind of blows my mind that food can be such a struggle for me. I’m a proud member of the 5am club and I thrive on getting my workouts done before my work day starts. I can honestly say I have not missed a workout in years. Some days my mental game has to be fierce, but I always get it done and I’m proud of what my body is capable of. But, for some reason, I just don’t have that same willpower when it comes to food – sound like you? Keep reading…
Nutrition as part of my fitness journey is most certainly a work in progress. I’ve heard that willpower is like a muscle and you have to work it to make it stronger. If I look back on my nutrition journey, this “carb-queen” really has come a long way; for the first several years of carving out time to exercise, I refused to change my diet. My mantra used to be, “I work out so I can enjoy pizza, chocolate, junk food, …” you fill in the blank! Eventually I got stuck in a place I didn’t want to be and I became open to trying something new. Many people shy away from the word diet because often times that means eliminating the foods you love most. Many diets or approaches to healthy eating come with big, long lists of foods you can’t have and while this approach may work for some, I knew these kind of restrictions would not work for me. What does work for me is a nutrition plan that focuses on portion size and five essential food groups: veggies, fruits, carbs, proteins, healthy fats and seeds/oils.
Portion Fixing is a container system in which each food category comes with a list of foods with those that are the most nutritionally dense at the top of each list. For example, the top three foods from each category are as follows:
- Veggies - kale, watercress and collard greens
- Fruits - raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
- Carbs - sweet potato, yams and plantains
- Proteins - sardines, boneless/skinless chicken or turkey and duck breast
- Healthy fats - avocado, almonds and cashews
- Seeds/dressings - pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds (raw)
- Oils - extra-virgin olive oil, extra-virgin coconut oil and flaxseed oil.
You eat a variety of different foods from the list measured out in different sized containers. Each person will have a different number of containers to eat each day and this number depends on what your weight loss goals are. For weight loss you would eat in a deficit category where calories in is less than calories burned for the day. For weight maintenance calories in would balance calories burned. Sometimes “treats” fit into the container system. For example, you can swap out half of a carb container plus half a healthy fat container for 6 chocolate covered almonds. But, these types of substitutions should only happen occasionally during the week. Other programs have cheat days, but again - all in moderation so that cheat days or meals don’t turn into weekends or weeks of unhealthy food choices. This is one of things I appreciate about this nutrition plan. There really is nothing you can’t have. That’s the kind of flexibility I needed to fully commit to healthier eating from day to day.
This nutrition plan works for me because it has encouraged me to eat a variety of different foods which at the same time has forced me to eat the correct amount of protein each day (I was lacking) and tone down my carb intake (I was over-indulging). I have also tried many new healthy recipes that I otherwise would never have tried. I will admit the first several months took a lot of planning and tracking which was time consuming, but, the whole purpose of using the containers is to use them to measure your food and then empty the containers onto a plate so you learn to eyeball the proper portion of food you need. I’m now at the point where I can do this and even track my container counts in my head without much thought.
Really what healthy eating comes down to is a lifestyle change. It’s an integral part of what should be a lifelong health and fitness journey. At first you may have to make baby steps, but even baby steps are steps in the right direction. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will get there!