Vegan Nutrition 101: Part 5
How to portion meals for your energy and nutrient needs
We’ve discussed the nutrients you need to be healthy, why low-fat and low-carb are not serving you or nourishing your body.
The next step is to make sure you’re eating the right amount, or portion sizes.
Let me say this up front…
Counting calories sucks.
Knowing how much to eat should be intuitive, but the trouble is portion sizes in restaurants are so out of proportion that it becomes very difficult for people to judge.
Also, there are things in prepared and restaurant food that make us eat more than we otherwise would – salt, sugar, msg or msg-like compounds. It’s scary, actually, the things food companies are doing… That’s one of the reasons it’s so important to focus on whole foods, to avoid hidden compounds. I don’t like to distract my energy to the negative side of things, but I think it’s worth mentioning that there are factors beyond your control out there.
If you’re struggling with willpower, it isn’t all on your shoulders.
The good news is that once you crowd out the foods that are exerting power over you in terms of feeding the cycle of cravings and addiction, you get your power back. You’re in control.
It can take some time to get back into that place of control and power, but if you keep on this path you will get there. And once you’re in control, it gets much easier to listen intuitively to your body about what it needs for energy, and to eat the right amounts.
Until you get to that space, it’s important to have a guideline of portions. Because if you don’t figure out how much you should be eating, you won’t see results and you’ll probably get discouraged.
Some people even gain weight when they start on the intuitive eating path, because they’re told to eat whatever they want so long as it’s healthy foods. I love that idea, but it is possible to overeat healthy foods.
Intuitive eating says to eat only when your hungry and stop when you’re full. That mindset is a wonderful final goal, but in our society it’s really hard to get there right away.
I don’t want you to fixate on calorie intake. Instead, I want you to get an idea of what a healthy balanced day of food would look like for you. That way you can visualize it, rather than thinking of food just as the number of calories.
To get you started, download the general guide for servings and portions that I put together for you. The thing to remember, though, is that any portion guide is an average. The energy needs of a woman who’s 5’3 and not very active is very different from a man who’s 5’11 and runs daily.
(That’s why my meal plans run off a dynamic portion calculator, so that you get your portions laid out for you – not someone else or the “general” someone.)
So you need to download the portion guide, to serve as a place to start – and then make notes or tweak it to suit you.
Nutrition is all about balance, and there are a lot of balls to juggle at once to maintain that balance. As you get used to keeping them all in the air at once, it does get easier. The best way to get started is to focus on one thing at a time – one ball – and let someone else take care of the others up until you feel ready to take on the next step.
The dynamic portion calculator in the meal plan program changes all the recipes, to the right portions according to your individual energy needs. So that you can just focus on eating delicious foods, rather than counting calories.
So you can get to know how much you should be eating for each meal and snack, to give you all the energy you need without weighing you down with extra food.
Questions? Let me know down below!
Coming up next: Spend a day with a holistic nutritionist!
Now that you know what you’re supposed to be doing… how do you actually go through a day?
The next post in this series will be hanging out with me for a day, so you can see what I eat and how I make healthy eating work – even on a weekday.
Not signed up for this series? Get in on it, over on the left.
- Using calorie density to lose (or gain) weight
- Lysine: The Limiting Amino Acid in Vegan Diets, by Jack Norris, RD
- The Plant Plate, by Ginny Messina The Vegan RD
- Food Plate by ChooseVeg
- A balanced diet for vegans, by Kelly Torrens for BBC Good Food