Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adventures with Mary Lou and the Plate Method

Adventures with Mary Lou, Day 25

Digital scale: Up .6 pound.

(To compare with yesterday: Dressed identically to Day 24, different long-sleeved t-shirt. Had the same breakfast before my visit to Mary Lou's Platform.)

Mary Lou: "You are 2 pounds above your starting weight."
(Curious...I didn't think my t-shirt was 8 oz. lighter than the previous day's shirt, but it's possible. And why does she always sound like she's suppressing a weary sigh after delivering the news?)
"Remember: Out of sight, out of mind. When dining out, ask for half portions of everything you order. That way, you won't feel guilty eating everything on your plate."
[I did not record this time, but am pretty sure I got it verbatim. The word "guilty" always sticks out, doesn't it?]

Mr. Handsome & Handy & Frugal, on hearing today's message: "I'd feel guilty about wasting money. Why not get a take-home box for the rest?"

Yeah, that's what I was wondering! Maybe it's because I don't dine out very often, but surely there are some other tricks to try. Like eating less during the rest of the day and the days around the dining out? Planning ahead by checking out the menu or nutritional info online? Splitting a dinner with another family member and get a salad or other veggie side to fill up on? I kind of have a hard time not picking at what I intend to take home, but I'm doing better at making it until the to-go box arrives. That way, I won't miss out on tasty leftovers in my lunch the next day.

The Plate Method

But I think what really bothered me about today's advice was the mention of "feeling guilty." I know a lot of people struggle with the "clean plate club" guilt, eating past the point of enjoyment or fullness to avoid "feeling guilty" about leaving food on the plate. But it seemed to me like Mary Lou's advice implied that you should feel guilty for eating a whole plate of food! I know, I know, some restaurant meals put enough calories on a plate to fulfill the caloric needs of a family of four for an entire day. But don't we have enough emotional baggage at the dinner table? And what if you're hungry and you fill your plate in a way that it meets your body's needs for fuel?

Enter the "plate method," with much fanfare and cymbal flourishes. I learned about this as part of my diabetes education. You can read about it here and see an illustration, but you basically imagine your plate in 4 quadrants. Fill half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables. Fill one quarter with a starch serving (1/2 cup is about the size of half of your fist). Fill the remaining quarter with a protein serving (about the size of the palm of your hand, or a deck of cards). The Zone method folks also have a variation on the plate method over on their Zone Quick Start Guide page, and it seems a lot easier to follow than carb:protein:fat ratio one hears quoted with respect to the Zone method.

I don't use the plate method all of the time, but it's handy when I can't weigh and measure my food portions, such as when I'm eating at someone else's house or in a buffet situation.

Which leads me to my illustrations! They're a little tongue-in-cheek, actually, so see the above links for the truly useful (and healthful) advice.

Ah....Now that's my kind of "plate method" plate! Back in December, I won a terrific prize on the Diabetes Mine web site contest (answering the question, "How do you deal with holiday stress?"): a "diabetic friendly" gift pack of chocolate from verē. They are a low-sugar variety of dark chocolate: intense chocolate flavor (not overpowered by other flavorings when present), smooth texture, and they did not spike my blood glucose levels. Yeayy! But for obvious reasons, this would not be a regular item on my plate: they're pricey goodies! Oh, and while one good-sized square has 13 grams of carbohydrate (with 4 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of sugar), there are 12 grams of fat.

Mr. Handsome & Handy demonstrates the more traditional variation, but with a nice bourbon-and-diet-cola accompaniment. Hmmm...I guess the medical people would get kinda frowny-faced over this one, too. Oh well....


Christie O. said...

Yeah you're right, it is kind of funny she used the word guilty. I don't know, when I dine out, I eat until I am comfortably full then box the rest up. It usually ends up being about half of what they served me. If it's a healthy meal I'll stretch it to the next day, if it's not particularly healthy, my husband will take it to lunch for work. That's our MO. If we're doing something like ordering pizza, I'll order a salad too so I only have one or two pieces and we order the pizza without meat.There are a zillion little tricks to eating out healthily or healthier -- whichever way you wanna choose--and you've got em all in your post it looks like! anyway, i like the plate thing you have, we try to do that here at home too!

Anonymous said...

Love the plate method when you are not around a kitchen scale!

When I go out, I always pick what I am going to get and figure out the carbs/calories before I go - I have several back ups just in case - then I never look at the menu so I am not tempted to get the mozzarella sticks!

Hope you had a relaxing Sunday!

Fitness Surfer said...

When i eat out my eyes are always more hungry then my tummy. I order way to much eat until I'm full then keep nibbling while chatting until we leave.

This weekend I ate Mongolian BBQ and although I planned on getting twice as much for leftover lunch the next day, i still ate over 2/3's of it. I was hungry, but i could have just boxed up half before i got started.

Lyn said...

*spam spam spam*

feel better? ;)

I love your critique of the scale messages. Sometimes the stuff she says leaves me scratching my head. They are coming out with a new cartridge soon I think. A drill sargeant. That ought to be fun.

Juice said...

OK I think Mary Lou might get on my nerves. But I love the plate theory! I try to incorporate that when fixing my own plates. :)

Pubsgal said...

Love these tips! Thanks, gals!!!

@ Lyn: Oh yes, *much better*! Although, speaking of spam, I must say that the item I just saw in my gmail spambox asking if I would do a product review on my blog of a certain product that enhances a certain part of the male anatomy (which I do not possess)...NOT happening, but it was pretty good for a laugh.

Drill sargeant? Oh my...I'd rather have the "My Favorite Bloggers" edition. Although there would likely be a lot of giggling by said bloggers. Which would be a good thing in my book. Perhaps they can think of a way to make "custom" cartridges, and have downloads, kind of like iTunes or something.