Portion Control 101, by Mackenzie Arrington For Jiu-Jitsu Magazine

This article about portions – Portion Control 101 – came my way recently via Jiu-Jitsu Magazine.  

Jiujitsu Magazine

Jiu-jitsu Magazine

If you google “portion control” you will be bombarded with enough articles and charts to sink a ship – but amidst the plethora, they generally share similar advice. Phew.

(As a note, you might also be bombarded with innumerable photos of Professor Snape – The seemingly insignificant “r” in portions makes potions so close in the eyes of Google that you may as well be in the Harry Potter fan club.  Nutrition, magic.  Eating, dragons… I dunno…)
Learningzone Express

Learningzone Express

Portions are a tricky thing for me – I can definitely eat a lot more than I do, and have to make a concerted effort NOT to go overboard.  As a kid, my level of activity was so high that I needed to eat more than I did.  Nowadays maintenance requires mindfulness, and a good deal less where volume is concerned.  When I falter, I see the difference fast.

Everyone is different so each person will have his or her own needs and requirements when it comes to how much they need to take in on a daily basis. No need – EVER – to compare.

One of my personal problems is being bored or – just-because-for-no-good-reason – feeling like I need to chomp on something (even when my stomach is fine!) I can’t say chewing gum is the best habit either but…better that (in my case) than eating more calories than I need.  

Anyway. . .the article talks about using one’s own hand as a guide – it’s a useful tool, and one you never leave home without. Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are notorious for monitoring their diets – the Gracie family, for one is HUGE on nutrition.  In fact, they have their own diet and they unapologetically recommend their students abide by it.  

At the end of the day what works best for you to reach your goals may well be different than someone else, or that new and special “diet” (fad, doctor-recommended, whatever!)  That’s OKAY! 

What can help all of us is portions – minding the amount of food we take can be a massive help in obtaining results, regardless of what macronutrients our body needs, or in what quantity.  

I know I need to allow myself to feel full sometimes, for example.  Taking a drink of water and waiting a few minutes helps deter me when I feel extra ravenous.  If I’m still starving in a half hour, maybe I do need a little more protein – but better than having far too much in a sitting without really needing it. 


Setting Up The Day

There’s something to be said for having breakfast in the morning.  It doesn’t have to be sitting on your night table and devoured the moment your lids go up…but having a meal in the morning as you get going can set you up for a much better day.

My system is a little quirky – if I wake up early, before my usual (and more natural) time, I have to eat pronto.  Not doing so lands me in a puffy and uncomfortable way – no one can explain it, it just is what it is.  Same thing happens if I wait too long between meals or snacks! Frustrating but…I know it happens, so I’m able to be proactive and head it off!  If I wake up at my usual time, a cup of coffee and a little time before eating works best.  Everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with the way your morning routine is if it works for you!

I don’t vary a ton with my food in general – I could list my staples on one hand.  So breakfast is either eggs and vegetables, or eggs and fruit.  I don’t manage to get bored, remarkably (spices and sometimes even salsa or hot sauce can make a nice change!)


What I find, though, is that having a decent amount of protein, paired with high fiber and high water content foods sets me up to have more energy for the not just the morning, but the day.  It kicks starts the metabolic burning process, and it often keeps me from devouring everything in sight later (that happens – for sure – when I don’t.)  


Whatever mix of macronutrients works for you so that you feel your best, have the most energy, and feel satisfied, is what you should do!  That might be toast with peanut butter and some fruit, or a big greek yogurt smoothie… Whatever it is, though, squeeze it in if you can.  Breakfast is hugely important and will give you the support you need internally to start the day right. 


Health – The Freedom Of Having A Choice

This came my way this week and though it sounds a little harsh, it’s a very in-your-face truism that shouldn’t be ignored (hence, I’m sure, why it was phrased this way.)  


Everyone is different – nutritional requirements, for example, vary depending on a TON of factors, some of which are not in our control (age is a fine example.)  But at the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves – we have one “vessel” this go around, and while it can take some beating…it isn’t impervious.

Not everyone can fit in a long-winded routine during the day – I’ve been there.  At one time it was 12 to 14 hour days, sometimes with only three hours of sleep (with a three-hour commute split in half on each side.)  At another, there were weeks of frequent overseas travel with 12 to 14 hour days, and a nonexistent gym (not that I would have had the energy anyway!)  And yet another, I was balancing a competitive sport with long days and total exhaustion – work, train, sleep…with a little bit of food in between. 

BUT…despite the timeline being against me most of the time, there were things I could do – whether walking to work, taking the stairs at the hotel, doing a quick routine in my room…something…ANYthing…to get a little movement in.  It matters.  The body is designed to move – not just take in fuel and do nothing with it..

On that latter point, clean eating – a component equally as vital – doesn’t mean you need follow the same diet as a body builder (you’d be amazed how much a body builder’s diet can vary from a figure competitor, or bikini competitor…forget about just a healthy, fit adult!) What it does mean, though, is caring about the fuel you put into your body so you feel – and function – your best.  You wouldn’t put low quality fuel into a Ferrari and expect it to hit it’s potential, right?  You’re the Ferrari!!!

Keeping in mind that everyone’s needs are unique, sticking to whole, real foods (ones nature produces) and less processed items is your best bet.  Your body needs calories, by the way – it needs protein, carbohydrates AND fats to function…not only optimally, but at all!  

I see two things happen a lot in society – in the USA, at least, it’s become about convenience, and size.  If it’s easy to get, and / or the portions are enormous for the money, people flock to it without internalizing the longer-term effect.

(C) Randy Glassbergen

(C) Randy Glassbergen

I feel like if more time was spent either making food…or sitting down to savor it…and / or people ate smaller portions and let themselves digest a moment, that health would be less of a national concern.  Yes, it can be that simple. (Think I’m crazy?  The awareness is out there – example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4…yikes!  There are also, obviously, have been a ton of articles on the topic over the last few years.)

Given the time of year, as an aside, it’s helpful to remember that just because the calendar says it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean we have to go overboard – it doesn’t feel good to be overstuffed (I don’t know anyone who thinks so, honestly.) There is truly no need – most supermarkets carry holiday food items for a while before and after…so you don’t have to worry about getting it all in at once.  Smaller portions also allow you to enjoy everything, without that horrible, ruined-my-night-feeling-sick aftermath.  

There are a lot of factors going into determining our overall health – some, again, are ones we aren’t in charge of (wouldn’t it be nice if we were?!)  But there are A LOT of things we *CAN* do to take care of ourselves, to stay healthy, and in shape.  Neglecting ourselves is a quick route to sickness (and for you active people, that goes for us too – doing too much might be our trouble spot, landing us in overtraining drudgery.)  

One of many thoughts on the issue, this from Mike Adams

One of many thoughts on the issue, this from Mike Adams

We really DON’T get that many chances.  And honestly, no one wants to have to be in a precarious situation first to get the message that loving and taking care of our health is up to us, and a huge priority.

Shutter stock image

Shutter stock image

If you are new to it, DON’T WORRY!  Baby steps are a-okay. 🙂 There are a ton of resources out there to help you (like the snappy food portion visuals below.)  One day at a time always seems to be the best advice – for, ohhh, EVERYTHING!  Remember that you are in control – YOU get to choose – and that you deserve to feel your best every day. ❤



Hungry Girl also has a few HOLIDAY TIPS…

More on the food front

Weekend Meals

Weekends are my wind-down time – I do have two activities on Saturday (Ninjutsu Combat Simulation, and Aerial Yoga), but they aren’t as rigorous as my weekly workout routines (Brazilian JiuJitsu four times a week, cardio three times a week, lifting at least four times a week, Ninjutsu classes four times a week…, and some teaching with Martial Arts kids classes.)  I’m incredibly thankful I can schedule so many activities, as I’m energetic by nature and need to move around.

But for me, Saturday afternoon and Sunday I can give myself a little bit of a break physically, and sometimes as far as eating out.  During the week we usually eat at home, and my meals don’t vary hugely in terms of content… On the weekend, I’m still really clean, but I might have more yolks than I typically do in the mornings, or I might have more servings of fruit, or almonds.  None of it is unhealthy, but I’m less concerned with portions and timing – I sort of just have the clean foods I like with less stringency.  

I’m asked a lot whether or not I have “cheat meals” – I don’t really.  But again, the weekends, or when I travel, I loosen the reigns a bit, going with whatever the flow might be.  That’s enough “cheat” for me – I stick to healthy options, so I never get totally out of hand, or go so overboard that I’m beating myself up.  Just what works for me personally!


This weekend we went to brunch and my fiancé – who’s always looking out for me! – ordered the eggs that came with HIS meal exactly the way I ordered my three.  😀  Normally I have a whole egg and egg whites in the morning, with a ton of vegetables – but when I’m out, I’m eating three whole eggs in a sitting…and in this case, a few more!  It isn’t something I do every day, so I’m not overly worried about having a few – I could definitely use the aminos, and the healthy fat…plus…PROTEIN! ❤ I always order fruit salad too, for some sweetness…AND extra vitamins!  

We had dinner at home – my favorite ground chicken recipe, and tons of roasted broccoli (he’s always makes it perfectly.) Filling, wonderful nutrients and solid macros…good stuff!


What’s your weekend plan?

For more of what I munch…!


Surf And Turf

Last night my hunnie made a veggie Surf & Turf stew – SO GOOD!  

The dish was made with the following:

  • Rao’s tomato sauce (one that has a lot less sugar and added “junk” than many others)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 box of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 bag of sweet mini peppers
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 3 bags of broccoli (which is probably 3 large heads, chopped)
  • 1 lb or so of Argentine shrimp
  • 1 lb + of chicken tenderloins
  • Salt and spices

He’s quite the chef, and I am always impressed with how much he keeps track of at once!  The chicken was broiled separately, and the shrimp done towards the end – both came out perfectly. ❤ 


It’s such a healthy meal and honestly, it was so good I couldn’t stop eating it – I had it for breakfast and lunch! 😀 It’s filling, and good for you – lean protein and veggies?  It doesn’t get much better!


I’m not a big “sauce” person because I don’t like to add calories to my meals that aren’t particularly necessary.  But this wasn’t the kind of thing that will break your bank, so to speak, unless you are using way too much, and / or having it all the time!  We usually have grilled or broiled chicken, shrimp or fish and keep condiments to a minimum.  With the right spices, you don’t even need sauce!  I never understood the whole “smother” phenomenon…  


If you love the idea but DON’T want sauce, use a little bit and cut up whole and cherry tomatoes to lighten up the nutritional stats. 


The only fat in the meal (or in the sauce) was derived from olive oil, and that’s always a good thing!  I don’t have a ton of fat in my nutritional scheme (not on purpose at all!  I eat salmon, almonds, pistachios etc to add it in, as it is vital to proper function of the body!) so I like to have “good” oils here and there.  Also keep in mind, that’s where some of the calories are coming from – it wasn’t a sugar-laden dish at all!


Something fun, especially as the colder winter moths are coming. I’m so thankful and appreciative of his cooking, and it’s fair to say, so is my tummy!!