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Day 1: Kicking Off

Day 1: Kicking Off

Join associate editor Tami Fertig on a 7-day challenge to reset her sense of proper portions. Sign up to receive the daily challenge newsletters here and be sure to read the magazine story that inspired the challenge here.

So long mindless eating, hello VT’'s 7-Day Portion-Control Challenge! Wanna join me on an adventure to reset my sense of proper portions? Something tells me we're all going to need a little support and guidance to stick this week out.

See, despite what you might expect from a VT editor, I don’'t always have model eating habits.  I can't resist a craving for lasagna, mac and cheese, cupcakes, and cookies. If this stuff crosses my path, I will gobble it up.

But not this week. I’'m going to try my darndest to abstain from anything not on the VT meal plan. (Well, except maybe baby carrots. “Vegging out” is allowed.)

In the spirit of the challenge, I even bypassed free samples at the supermarket while picking up groceries yesterday (check out the printable shopping list!). It was surprisingly easy too. I simply ate lunch beforehand, packed walnuts for the road, and treated myself to a tasty green smoothie near the register. So far, so good!

My fridge is now packed with veggies of every shape and color. All I have to do is start cooking. (My plan is to assemble several casseroles today and freeze them for later in the week.) I’'m super-excited but also a little scared. On day one, I’'m supposed to limit myself to one wedge of luscious-sounding Tortilla Lasagna. Will I go back for seconds? Check back manana.

How about you, readers? Have you started the challenge? Join the chat with your stories, tips, questions, and concerns so far!

—To sign up for the 7-Day Portion Control daily newsletter, visit the main page.
—Get the full 7-day meal plan.
—Read the magazine story that inspired the challenge, The Get Real Diet.
—Check out the Serving Savvy Cheat Sheet.


Comments on this Blog

Is there any particular reason why the overnight chai steel-cut recipe calls for a glass jar?

Just had 2 beers with the tortilla lasagna. They didn't mention eliminating alcohol:) I still ate 5 x healthier than I usually do,'s a start!

I really connected when you said you were a "little bit scared". I decided just this week to go from being a vegetarian, to a "full blown" vegan. The prospect is just as you described - exciting but also a little scary!

Excited! thanks for blogging about this. Everyone, if you're not working tomorrow, try to volunteer/day of service - help someone else - plus, moving around helps with the portion/weight control "challenge!"

I am a vegan, but my eating of carbs are out of control. So I will be curbing that aspect of my portion control. I too loaded up with fresh veggies and fruits with low a glycemic index. This way of eating is now my way of life. I choose to be healthy and fit and mentally balanced.

I am sure it is not easy, but I ready to try. I can't survive without my sweet, and big portion. I am a stress eater, I always have something to eat near me. I hope this challenge will help me to drop few pounds.

My concern is: Will I be able to resist all the junk food my coworkers have? I am surrounded by temptation. When I ate properly in the past I would just say to myself, "That's not on my list" and I would physically turn away from it. I guess I will try that again.

I constantly struggle with portion control! This is a very timely challenge for me as I begin the new year resolved to work on my relationship with food this year.

We can do this! :)

I'm on it!

I actually started last week. Being on a Vegan diet, I developed my own vegan menu using some of the recipes from the site. So far it's been relatively easy to follow. I find that variety is the key for me. I tend to get into ruts then end up pigging out simply because I'm looking for something "new". So, I chose the most interesting recipes I could find. Two thumbs up for initiating the challenge. It's been extremely helpful for me and it kick-started me just when I needed it. I find that my energy level is up and I've already lost a pound!

Thanks so much! great idea for teaching portion control and including a menu with snacks- such a big help

Anyone have suggestions for vegan alternatives to the eggs and dairy meals on the plan?

I started today and have just finished cleaning out my pantry and fridge properly, ready to begin. I promised my husband the three cheese lasagne recipe on this website for our second year anniversary dinner tonight so I will be detouring a little, but still the correct portion size and salad. Good luck everyone!

My partner and I started today and excited but a bit frustrated after shopping yesterday. Spent $400 for a single weeks worth of groceries which is about double what my budget is. This menu seems to reinforce the typical stereotype that eating healthy is too expensive for most people to afford. We clearly could not keep this up for more then a week. Not to mention the fact that many of the ingredients listed were so hard to find or completely out of season that it took 3 trips to different stores to find most of the items listed and I only live 1/2 hour outside of Manhattan not in a rural area. Not a very optimistic start... only hoping that the recipes are not unrealistic for two working adults to keep up with during the week...

The menu is for 1600 calories per day - I'm short and trying to lose weight too. This is too many calories - I only need about 1200. Just omit the 2 snacks?

Like others, I'm vegan and not skinny so I have surmised that it must be a portion issue. I do pretty well with WHAT I eat but think I eat too much of it. If other vegans want to be in touch, my email is msred5 at gmail dot com. Cheers!

I am a lifetime member of weight watchers but like many diet plans the needs of Vegetarians and vegans are not really considered. Therefore, its really easy to fall into a dependence on carbs.This will help me keep on track. THANKS!!! Also, there is are plenty of people that think vegans and vegetarians can't have a weight issue. This is so untrue. As soon as I received my copy of VT I started and felt lighter. I am looking forward to the challenge.

I just had the soup, cracker and orange and boy and I full. Usually I would of had 5 crackers and no orange. Nice change. I have been vegan for about 7 months and this is a perfect way to see how I "should" be eating. Other than a few substitutions for eggs and cheese, this will be a fun journey. The hardest part of cooking for me is trying to decide WHAT to cook. Thanks for doing the hard part.

I am so excited to jump on this bandwagon, as I'm almost done with my beginning of the year cleanse and am regaining understanding of my need to weigh and measure everything before I eat it because I struggle with portion control. Popular opinion suggests that vegetarians are skinny, which some are and some of us LOVE food just like non-vegetarians and need additional guidance. I'm so excited to make 2012 the best year yet (even if it might be the last).

Yesterday, went by the Asian Market for more brown rice and some veggies. Then, onward to grocery store for more organic veggies. I cook a large pot of brown rice in my rice cooker then put it in small glass containers for portion control. I'm not so big on controlling portions when it comes to stir-fried or steamed veggies. My downfall is espresso drinks and late-night snacking. Argh!

Hey, wait for me! i still need to get the groceries :) At least there are eggs in the refrigerator.

Let´s GO!!!

New Year's resolution: go Vegan! Too bad potato chips are vegan. I am out of control. Anyone know a good way to get over my cheese love? Fake food is also something I want to avoid as I am looking to eliminate the chemicals from my diet (though the diet coke is still in my hand). M

I'm really excited to start this. It will be wonderful to finally learn what an appropriate portion is! Thanks for doing this VT!

I'm so excited! This is getting me out of my "food rut" and helping me to eat regularly, which I often forget to do. Thanks, VT. I'll be with you all week!

Like Peace Warden, I was a vegan with too many carbs in my diet. I always wondered why I was the only fat vegan I knew of! And no, I did not portion control because..well, vegan is healthy so who needs to do that!!? Last June, I went to a nutritionist and MD, and began a diet that was incredibly restricted and did demand that I weigh and measure EVERYTHING. This diet was NOT vegan, and I did do it. It was the right choice for me and I lost 75 pounds. Now, I am using this great blog to get back to veg or vegan, weigh and measure me and food..and hopefully KEEP the weight off! Got to say though, the more I lost, the easier it was to stick to it.

Loved Day 1 breakfast - so simple. Getting ready to eat my lentil soup now, and start cooking the Tortilla lasagna. I'm also going to try and cook one or two other casseroles for the week, so I have it ready to go, and so I'm not stressed out cooking after work. I agree with another poster who said the groceries were expensive. Mine weren't nearly as much as theirs for some reason, but yes, there were some things I couldn't find (persimmon out of season in our area, so I'm just doing a different fruit), and I'm not buying a huge bag of chia since it's not a normal part of my diet. In that case, I plan to sub in flax seeds.

You can substitute vegan cheese for the cauliflower Mac and Cheese.

Ab: The meal plan can be easily veganized. Simply choose tofu over eggs, replace butter with vegan spread, swap out Greek yogurt for organic soy- or coconut-based yogurt, and opt for vegan cheese.

Good choices for beverages include tea, sparkling water, kombucha, coconut water, and of course filtered water.

I find the portions to be too much for me to eat at one meal..or did i miss the fine print that says the portions are for more than 1 person..jajaaa. Now my husband is unwittingly doing the 7 Day Challenge with me. His part of the diet does include 2 IPAs as a beverage. :)

Thank you so much for this challenge. Portion control is always been a challenge for me and with your motivation over the next seven days, it will be on the forefront of my mind and hopefully become a regular part of my life. We can do this!

I am glad that there are a ton of people like me! Right now, my church is on a 3 week juice fast, but I have been wanting and NEEDING help with my portions so I hope to follow this when my fast is over. I have been a vegetarian since 2011 and even though I snack on nuts and seeds, I shouldn't be eating a 1/2 a pound of any nuts!! Good luck everyone!

I walked over 6000 steps in a trip to the mall. Portion control worked during breakfast and lunch. But then the snack monster hit and I consumed two handfulls of chips. I returned to moderate eating by dinner time

Thank you for starting this-I was trying the portion control since last week-having accountability will help!!!

It would be nice if you could provide some vegan options...the cauliflower mac is pretty dairy heavy, and it is consumed a few times throughout the week. The rest of the dishes are easy to veganize--although it still would be nice if you mentioned the vegan changes for new vegans--but the cauliflower mac is quite a bit of non-dairy processed junk to veganize.

I"m a "junk food" vegan trying to eat healthier. I hope to learn creative ways to eat better through your challenge. Thanks for doing this

I was wondering about beverages in the menu? Those would certainly add to the calories. Is it intended that water be the beverage of choice?

I too once struggled with portion control. Once the body is fed clean, nourishing foods in the right amounts, it thrives. And when you go off that plan for whatever reason, your can feel the difference. Have fun with this everyone!

I may bow out of this as I saw the shopping list and was overwhelmed with all the items I would need to purchase. Perhaps I need another program which will include an economical way of planning meals. Good luck!

I opened the email about this thinking it said POISON control, not PORTION control! Hahaha! Now that I've cleaned my glasses and read further, might I suggest that if you are constantly craving "lasagna, mac and cheese, cupcakes, and cookies" that you may have an issue with WHEAT? Several months ago, I experimented with my diet by giving up wheat. Yes, it takes some intense label-reading (ask any celiac) but within a week or so, my craving for those things pretty much disappeared. (You can always pick up a gluten-free item upon occasion.) Now, if I could only find a way to get rid of the craving for those salty, crunchy snacks...

Love your Tortilla Lasagna. I actually made a Mexican Lasagna (with no tortilla) this past weekend. It was delicious. Can't wait to do the 7 day portion challenge.

I'm very excited for the challenge! Thanks so much!

Ok, I am on deck....

What is first step in giving up the old eating way - you know, meat, veggies, etc. I don't even know the difference in vegetarian and vegan. Am I missing the introduction? I've just subscribed to the magazine. Maybe instructions will be in the magazine. Am definitely interested in your delightful recipes and way of eating. Thanks. Olga Oliver