4 - 2010

Food Rules 52-54: Eating Modestly

This is my ongoing,11-week series about Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

Part III is called, “How Should I Eat? (Not too much.).” This installment covers rules 52 through 54.

Rule 52: Buy smaller plates and glasses.

If you see more food, you’ll eat more — up to 30 percent more, Pollan writes. Use smaller plates to downsize your portions at home.

Rule 53: Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds.

This is another common-sense rule. We’ve been looking at the serving sizes on packages (pasta, for instance), to our chagrin. “Hungry man” servings are often two to three times the official serving size. That comes, of course, with two to three times the calories. Sometimes, that’s OK — one 100-calorie serving of breakfast cereal might not be enough to hold you to lunch. But do pay attention to what you’re getting into and you might be surprised.

Pollan’s book brings back a few “folklore” guidelines about portion size. You’ve probably heard some of them. A serving of protein might be as big as a deck of cards, or your palm; an ounce of cheese is about the size of your thumb.

I’ve heard that a good way to keep from eating seconds is to plate the food for each diner in your home, and then put away the leftovers before you sit down to eat. That way you cannot go into the kitchen to “graze” after the meal. It’s the same principle as asking a waiter at a restaurant to put half your meal in a to-go box before you begin to eat.

If you count on any leftovers to take with you for lunch the next day, they will lose some of their appeal as dinner seconds — and you’ll save money on lunch, too.

Rule 54: “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.”

Pollan’s back with the grandmotherly wisdom! He notes that there isn’t necessarily research supporting the idea that a big meal late in the day is bad for you, but perhaps eating more earlier gives you more time to burn off calories.

In the United States, most of us still eat the evening meal as the largest of the day, primarily because that’s when our families are together after heading our different ways all day. The danger is that after dinner, if you’re sitting around watching TV or whatever, it’s all too easy to keep on eating (or drinking — don’t forget beverages, whether milk or cocktails or soda, have calories, too) until bedtime, which might be the real culprit of evening-eating excess.

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