Have you been on a diet where you used a food scale to weigh your food? Or maybe measured out your food with measuring cups? There is an easier way. The “Half and Assess” exercise is a simple tool to retrain your brain on portion control.
Have the HUNGER/SATIETY SCALE handy. Here is another copy in case you need it.
This is how it works. When sitting down in front of a plate full of food cut the food on your plate in HALF.
It may be helpful to imagine half is all you can eat. This encourages mindfulness.
You are changing your habits, so it may feel a bit uncomfortable at the start. It will get easier. Also, your mind may drift off; just bring it back to paying close attention to your HUNGER CUES. Don’t worry about anything else right now. Be present — savor each bite of food. If your mind is filling up with thoughts like “this is right” or “this is wrong”, acknowledge the thoughts, but those thoughts are really just NOISE. As soon as you recognize this, just gently take your mind back to being present to your eating.
An action that helps with staying in the present is putting the fork down or taking sips of water in between bites. Enjoy the food as well as the friends or family you are dining with. Notice how fast you are chewing your food. Eating is meant to be enjoyed, don’t rush it.
When you are finished with the half, ask yourself, “How satisfied am I?” or “How does my belly feel?” Rate it using the HUNGER/SATIETY SCALE.
If you find yourself below a “7” or even if you are not sure, cut the remaining food on your plate in half. Now start eating this half, which is in essence a quarter of the food you were originally given. When that portion is finished, again ask yourself how you would rate your hunger on the HUNGER/SATIETY SCALE? Are you at a “7” yet? Still not sure? Continue to cut the portions in half, staying mindful and eat the halves until you are at a “7”.
This is an eating exercise in mindfulness. It’s a great workout for the mind. It is how I teach my clients true and authentic portion control. They gain self-confidence in managing their portions and they prevent themselves from overeating.
It may seem very deliberate in the beginning, maybe even a bit silly. It won’t feel this way forever. If you stick with it for a little while, you will find that it becomes second-nature. How will you know it has become natural to you? For one, you will not need to cut your food in half or even think of your food in halves anymore. This is when you can call yourself an AUTHENTIC AUTHORITY over what and how much you eat. You will know when you have had enough to eat and you will feel comfortable stopping when you are satisfied. This is a big milestone for achieving lasting weight management. No more “start again tomorrows.”
The purpose of the HALF & ASSESS EXERCISE is to get back in touch with your inborn satiety cues, in other words,the ones we were all born with, but may have lost sight of due to NOISE.
When getting reacquainted with your HUNGER CUES you gain control over food appropriately and healthfully. You will soon become a master at this skill and you will see there is absolutely no reason to panic at the mention of those “forbidden” foods you have been dodging for years.