A note on portion control

A note on portion control

The long-lived people of Okinawa practice a principle they call Hara Hachi Bu: Eat until you’re eighty percent full.

In my previous life, I was a carb junkie. My favorite snacks included crumpets and chocolate muffins. Since I got type 1 diabetes and went low carb I’ve had to get used to something really important: portion control.

Protein is glucogenic so eating large amounts of meat and cheese can be tricky if you’re injecting insulin, as you’ll see a delayed blood glucose rise hours after eating. The best way to keep your blood glucose in check is to eat smaller portions. This is difficult, especially if you’re used to carb binging. Here are some tips that have helped me eat less in the past year. 

  • Fat is your friend as it has little if any effect on blood glucose. Make sure you have enough of it in your meals to feel satisfied. Don’t overdo it though as it is possible to gain weight on a low carb diet if your calorie surplus is large enough.
  • Drink a lot of water. A couple of glasses of sparkling water with your meal can help you feel fuller and eat less. Be careful with diet drinks, as the sweet taste can trigger an insulin response and make you hungrier. This is obviously not a concern in type 1 diabetes.
  • Plate your food before eating. Humans are notoriously bad at guesstimating things, and I’ve had my worst blood glucose disasters when sharing a pork knee with friends. 
  • Wait for twenty minutes after a meal before eating anything else. I picked up this piece of advice from a doctor who specializes in childhood obesity. It takes some time for the hormones of satiety to kick in. Distract yourself by making a cup of coffee in the meantime. It also helps to eat slowly, but this is easier said than done when you’re hungry as a bear.

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