How much do I put on my plate?
One of the most common discussions in our Online Support Group forum is about Portion Size. People have a lot of trouble judging how much food to dish.
The Pouch Rules
The answer will surprise you because it’s more about choosing the right food and how to eat, not necessarily how much is on your plate. Learn to rely on food choices and your pouch rather than your measuring cup. IF I went for it, I could easily overeat Macaroni & Cheese but Chicken notsomuch because it is self limiting. Use the pouch as a tool by filling it with protein and using that fullness as an ally.
By the way, for this to work, no bread, no potatoes, no tortillas, no rice, no rolls, no pasta, no high carb foods. Do not drink with your meals. If you have been drinking with meals. STOP IT.
Consider the ten point scale below for judging from hunger through fullness. Imagine the way each level feels as you slowly read through its description and think about how you feel right now. You will recognize the progressions. As I ate supper this evening, it suddenly clicked that I was eating past Level 6 right into 7 and it helped me to stop so abruptly my husband asked me what was wrong. Right now, several hours later, I am watching tv at a level 4, it’s 10pm and I am fighting night eating.
There is a small sweet zone at Level 4 where your body goes to its stored fat for energy and that is where you want to be as much as possible! If you are always feeding, your body doesn’t burn what it has stored.
This list is to encourage thinking about how you feel while eating instead of mindlessly consuming an entire measured amount or focusing on cleaning your plate. Think about these levels as you eat and soon you will be able to stop right where you need to be.
level 1 – weak, headache, confusion, slow movements, low blood sugar
level 2 – very uncomfortable, light headed, irritable, unable to concentrate
level 3 – uncomfortable hollow feeling, stomach rumbling
level 4 – slightly uncomfortable, just beginning to become aware of and feel hunger
level 5 – comfortable, you are satisfied but could eat a little more
level 6 – happily comfortable, satisfied. Many emit a signal, usually a hiccup, sniffle or sneeze at the back edge before moving to level 7
level 7 – full and feeling that you don’t really want another bite. This is just a little beyond where you want to be
level 8 – not wanting to swallow the chewed food in your mouth where you must spit it out, uncomfortable
level 9 – overfull, very uncomfortable, regret in having eaten too much, pouch pain, hoping to regurgitate for relief. Feeling this way normally initiated by foods that go down easily but swell such as rice, pasta, bread
level 10 – stomach pain, chills, regurgitating of food, followed by intense fatigue
Protein First Works
It doesn’t matter how much is on the plate if we use ‘Protein First’ and ‘Vegetables Second’ as our portion control and only eat until we are comfortable and satisfied, somewhere between Bariatric Level 5 and 6.
As a guide, fix your plate with 4 to 6 ounces solid protein with salsa or sauce and 1/2 cup lower carb vegetable or chopped salad. A good example would be 2 small chicken thighs braised in pasta sauce with broccoli, tomato cucumber salad, or sautéed spinach.
Eat 1/2 of your Protein First, 1/2 the Vegetable Second then go in for small alternating bites of protein and vegetable until you recognize you are at a soft fill level of 6. Then stop. Thinking about levels 5 through 9 while eating is very empowering.
Grazing: not just for cows anymore
Those who don’t achieve satiety are always hungry and often graze by eating small amounts throughout the day. This somewhat fills the pouch but never to satisfaction, which is the strongest feeling we can create for ourselves. I know post ops who only take three bites of food but repeat it over and over – they lose weight – but live in fear and have no comfort that they have a safety net.
The feeling of satiety, which by definition is the complete absence of hunger, lasts a very long time once it has been tripped. Those who don’t use the pouch fill mechanism are often hungry as they never trigger their own response.
If you are a scared measurer who stops eating before fullness, or a plate loading overfiller, learn to rely on your food choices and listen to your pouch. Have confidence to use your surgical pouch as the power tool it was made to be and experience the lasting fullness that has escaped you. It has been there all along!