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Day 2: Thinking Small

Day 2: Thinking Small

Join associate editor Tami Fertig on a 7-day challenge to reset her sense of proper portions. Sign up to receive daily challenge newsletters here and be sure to read the magazine story that inspired the challenge here. I made it through the first day of the meal plan! It was no easy feat, considering dinner involved Tortilla Lasagna. I had to stop myself from munching on bits and pieces straight from the pan, which I normally like to do after cooking anything melty and delicious. Instead, I served myself a single wedge on a very small plate. ('’Twas a little trick I learned from The Get-Real Diet in VT'’s January/February issue——food looks bigger on smaller plates, so you'’ll want to eat less of it.) Then my boyfriend came in and helped himself to two wedges of lasagna on a normal-sized plate, which sort of made me sad. But I persisted. I cut my wedge into a dozen smaller pieces, chewed very slowly, and took gulps of water in between bites. The verdict? Success! I took twice as long as my boyfriend to eat half as much food, but I left the table satisfied and full. The rest of the day went by pretty smoothly. I spent most of it in the kitchen, preparing a few casseroles for later in the week. Luckily, my boyfriend was around to run out to a Middle Eastern grocery store and get me grape leaves for the Stuffed Grape Leaves Casserole, since I couldn'’t find them at my usual supermarket the day before. One thing I noticed: counting and measuring can be a bit annoying. A cup of blueberries. Fifteen almonds. Two tablespoons of almond butter. In all honesty, I ended up eyeballing a couple of ingredients. Day 2's goal: I’'m making it a point to measure out everything, even my way-too-small-sounding cup of Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower scheduled for dinner. Did I mention how much I love mac and cheese? Wish me luck! —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.

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Comments on this Blog

Regarding food sensitivities: opt for coconut-based products to replace dairy. There are some great pea-protein-based dairy alternatives too. And there are numerous gluten-free crackers and breads on the market. Look for certified gluten-free oats.

please, someone tell me, how do you spread a half-teaspoon of butter onto a slice of toast? have you even tried to get a half-teaspoon of butter out of the measuring spoon? perhaps one should melt it and fling the few drips that that amount constitutes onto the bread...

It's hard to only eat one serving when it's something you like but if you look at all packages and see what a real serving is and measure it out you would be surprised how much you really eat in a day. Most people eat two or more servings of things so read packages and measure, measure, measure!

It's hard to measure it all; however, this is how portion control gets in and being honest with oneself about what we're eating. It's no miracle that the waistline of this country is getting bigger (20% bigger than 20 years ago across the board from what I'm gathering)! We are distracted, in a hurry all the time, we don't make it a priority to pay attention, we eat too much and move too little (TV, video games, computer...). Very few people can claim medical excuses; the rest of us should get off our behinds and eat less. Don't forget to get your 8 cups of water in!

Great recipes! 1 cup of the cauliflower was plenty, especially with the rice and spinach. I find I miss dessert, but am very full. Each day I've had to delete one meal due to too much food. Having designated snacks, which I have ready after breakfast so I don't eat other things, has been a big help. My usual snack has been large handfuls of nuts all day long...so that portion control is helpful.

I just finished day one, on Monday, a day behind everyone. Everything tasted SO good. It was great adding such a variety to my meals. I don't normally eat snacks so I cut back on the portion size on my breakfast, lunch and dinner. I ate below 1200 calories, with small portions and did not feel hungry at all. Thanks so much VT!

Using a smaller plate helps a lot! When I had to split up the household goods - he got all the big plates, I kept the amusing little ones that had stories and 'character'. I also have already made the cauliflower meal (it was our New Year's feast) and it will be hard to stop at 1 cup, but it makes great work lunches!

I'm also making some subsitutions for things I want to use up such as fresh collard for spinach saute, almond milk instead of the cow's milk in the cauliflower mac and cheese, and Monterrey Jack and some other cheese I wanted to use up. My husband said the cauliflower would have been better with fewer breadcrumbs so next time I will reduce the amount. Also I put it over my 1/2 cup of rice but easily could have done without the rice. I wasn't hungry after dinner, which is a plus for me. It is hard to measure, and in some cases, I eyeballed it too.

Having a party this week and my refrigerator is full so I haven't had a chance to start this yet. I even think my meat eating husband will like it. The food looks so good and I'm excited to get started!

Eating slowly is really hard. I commend you for your first day's success. Hope I can do as well.

The thing with the 1600 calorie/day diet plan is that it is already much lower than what "typical" American's eat. You have to also keep exercise into consideration; if you only eat 1200-1300 calories per day and training/exercising on top of that, you may be starving your body of what it needs. As a 5'5" woman, I eat around 1500 calories per day and sometimes still feel hungry (but I am still at a healthy weight, my muscle mass helps to speed up my metabolism).

It is really hard for me to follow this diet. I have food allergies and sensitivities. No chicken, cow's milk, gluten sensitivity and I cannot process fat well. Any suggestions for following the diet? I can deal with small portions, that is obvious.

I have to wonder if anyone would actually lose weight with this meal plan. The dinner alone (cheese, eggs, rice, nuts) has so much protein! It all sounds delish, but yikes. If I ate this much, I'd be doubling what I normally eat in a day. I'd be GAINING weight, even with the supposedly small portion sizes.

Am I the only one that thinks a 1660 calorie a day diet is way too much food? I would gain weight with this diet and most women of normal height would too! If you're going to lose a pound a week, a woman who is 5'5" should eat about 1200-1300 calories. Be careful guys!

My husband and I trying this program. We started a day late (don't ask). I find I am doing a lot of substitution and modification because I have esophageal issues and cannot eat acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes. I'm making a big pot of tomato sauce and reducing the acid by adding baking soda. Somehow I will make it work for the tortilla casserole tonight and the tomato fennel soup tomorrow. Can't find the sausages for the soup. Not even the local "health" food stores have them. Sigh...

Well I made the Tortilla Lasagna. It was delish - both of the guys in the house enjoyed it with relish. I did make a simple enchilada tomato sauce to top it off. Served it with a nice salad. Easy peazy. Nice and tasty and filling...

Great tip -- I've found that using a smaller plate really does help me eat smaller (realistic) portions. Also, making sure I sit at the table and not in front of the TV keeps me from overeating. Can't wait for dinner tonight!

Unbearably cutesy writing.

@Rebecca - I suspect it depends on your metabolism and activity level. I'm 5'5", about 180. Last year I very good results with the 1500 cal/day plan my doctor recommended. It did require measuring and counting calories so it was kind of a hassle but had I stuck with it, I'd be at my target by now. 12-1300 calories is a pretty small amount of food and as Kathy said can starve your body of nutrition it needs. Losing weight too fast isn't that healthy either. Nor is it generally sustainable. Everyone is different. Please be cautious with "should".

First day went great (the lemon water I carried with me was terrific...I thought I had coffee and sugary stuff beaten) until about 4 pm when I accidentally drove by a Dunkin Donuts! Today is a new day!