How to lose weight through behaviour change – Part 3

By Bhavin Prajapati

“I use the hands to signify what a portion looks like. A fist size is Carbohydrates. Two palm sizes are your vegetable allowance…” #portions

Portions sizes are always a big issue when it comes to losing weight. A useful strategy to reduce portion sizes is to encourage my patients to use smaller plates. This small act tells the brain that you are eating a sufficient amount of food. You are then less likely to keep wanting to eat more. My second approach is to get patients to understand portion sizes that people can relate to. People who are overweight consume larger portions in the first place. This is because they are not aware of the correct portion sizes to match their needs.

To keep things simple, I use the hands to signify what a portion looks like. A fist size is your meal allowance for carbohydrates. Two palm sizes are your vegetable meal allowance. One palm is your allowance for a medium sized fruit. The size of one’s palm represents the allowance for meat – the thickness of the meat portion being the size of a deck of cards. A healthy fish portion is the size of one hand. One thumb represents oils, butter and other fats. After explaining these portion sizes to my patients are shocked:  “That’s too small”, “Am I still going to be hungry”. Changing any habit takes time and dedication. I explain to my patients that a that a balanced meal is the key to weight loss. I show them the following plate:


I explain that it’s not just about the one particular food group. If we add foods from different groups we can bulk up our meals, making them balanced and nutritious. I give them an example. Rather than having 3 pieces of the same toast, you could have one wholegrain toast (from the Carbohydrate section), 2 poached eggs (from the Protein section) with grilled mushrooms and tomatoes (from the Vegetables section). We then discuss what ideas they have for lunch and their evening meals. This gets them thinking in a proactive way and many start to make positive changes with regard to portions and planning their meals. It is about bringing healthier choices into our daily lives.

Growing up in an Indian family, the food was amazing. However, it was not always the healthiest. When it comes to lifestyle I believe it’s important to enjoy all foods without feeling guilty. A person should be able to enjoy healthy and unhealthy foods.  If the majority of your week follows a balanced meal plan then an unhealthy meal/snack on the odd occasion is not going to harm your overall goal. Remember, we are not on a diet – we are changing our lifestyle to lose weight which will improve our general well being.

For losing weight and maintaining a sensible weight, it’s a good idea to keep track and  reflect on your habits on a regular basis. Before I start any session I begin with a “Let’s reflect” with my patients. What’s gone well and what are areas can we improve upon. This allows for continuous improvement. It enables patients to set new goals and maintain those that they have already achieved.

Thanks for sharing your views Bhavin, we look forward to more opinions and thought from you in the near future 🙂

‘Food bytes’ is written by Bhavin Prajapati. He shares his experiences of how to improve lifestyle and the overall wellbeing of patients with a holistic approach. He is a Nutritionist currently working for Nottinghamshire’s Obesity Prevention and Weight Management Service (Everyone Health). He currently delivers high quality, evidence based nutrition advice for children and adults, including those with maternity needs, seeking weight loss interventions in one to one and group settings, within the weight management service. A vital role within an innovative, forward thinking and dynamic Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) and integrated service in Nottinghamshire. He facilitates and empowers patients to affect behaviour and adopt positive lifestyle changes by providing health education and high quality nutritional counselling.