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Trimarni is place where athletes and fitness enthusiasts receive motivation, inspiration, education, counseling and coaching in the areas of nutrition, fitness, health, sport nutrition, training and life.

We emphasize a real food diet and our coaching philosophy is simple: Train hard, recover harder. No junk miles but instead, respect for your amazing body. Every time you move your body you do so with a purpose. Our services are designed with your goals in mind so that you can live an active and healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Trimarni Blog

A blog dedicated to exercise, nutrition and my life

Adult-friendly "diets" - portion distortion

Marni Sumbal

Yesterday I had the honor of being invited by my friend Alexia, to listen to Dr Judith Rodriguez speak at the Us group's 9th annual luncheon and lecture. The topic was "weigh your choices". Eat right for lifelong health and weight management.

Dr. Rodriguez discussed popular diets, the red flags for what may appear to be "healthy" but is simple another "fad" diet and tips as to how to control and manage eating and weight. Although the info was not all new to me, there were a few key statements that I took away, as well as a different point of view and way to view food.

One of the most popular discussed topics was the issue of portion distortion. "It's not about where you eat, but how you eat" says Dr. Rodriquez.
Adults seeking body composition changes, performance gains or improvements in overall health often blame the issue of being "unhealthy" on bad food.

Courtesy of and I think this picture speaks for itself.

However, what we know beyond just controlling portions for weight loss/management is that increasing the amount of fruits and veggies in the diet is beneficial not only for promoting satisfaction/filling but fruits and veggies contain a host of nutrients, valuable for metabolic processes, overall health and longevity.

When I was at the Lunch n' Learn, we were served a beautiful salad at the UNF University Center ....

Thankfully, this salad was followed by a vegetarian-friendly meal of pasta w/ ricotta cheese and marinara sauce, green beans and almonds.

You see, only I knew that I needed more for a meal than a salad and even the portion of pasta (which was appropriately portioned controlled) did not fill me up. I was satisfied but I didn't feel re-fueled.

You see, only I knew that I had done an intense workout that morning (followed by a recovery smoothie) and that I know my body better than anyone else.

To think that I can, need or should eat the same amount, types and style of food as 100+ other people is kinda silly, wouldn't you think? Same quality of food...yes, but different compositions.

Yesterday morning, my workout consisted of:
2:15 hr bike
4 x 6 min Z4 w/ 2.5 min recovery
5 min EZ spin
2 x 25 min Z3 (build to upper Z3 in last 3 minutes) w/ 3 min EZ
5 min EZ spin
5 x 2.5 min Z5+ w/ 1 min recovery
Cool down

Followed by 25 min Campy interval run:
6 x 3 min 6:20 min/mile average w/ 1 min walk

Sorry - the salad and pasta didn't work for me, but I know my body well enough (and what works for me) so I appropriately planned a snack for after the meal (nuts and fruit in my car), had a filling smoothie to recover from my workout and then had a snack when I got home and finished my day with a filling dinner. No binging, no cravings, no feelings of "out of control" or mindless eating but rather just a little empty feeling in my stomach. Life goes on....

When discussing portions with the employees at Baptist Beaches Medical Center and asking individuals if they read food labels to portion control, most people said "yes."
When asked to play my game of guessing the fat, sugar, calories and/or sodium in the following foods, most people said "um...I guess I really don't remember those things when I read the food label."
1 ounce peanuts
1 cup popcorn
1 serving triscuits
1 cup smart start cereal

I had a can of coke with 14 packets of sugar just to catch the attention of those who do choose coke as a "pick me up" when working in the hospital, just to open the eyes as to what they are really drinking.

No surprise to me, most people said that they wouldn't be able to stick to the portions that I used as my examples. I agreed.....
But the key is that portion control compliments a plant strong diet. Research is strong when it comes to the power of fruits and veggies adding "volume" to the diet, thus promoting satiety and to bump up the nutrient value of a meal. Thus no food needs to be off-limit, one just needs to understand where he/she is in his/her life journey (in regards to food for fuel and for health) and to then find a way to allow food to enhance life and encourage a step closer to a more balanced lifestyle.

I feel the strongest statement I made when talking about portions is demonstrating a meal (on the board) and then showing that the meal I made of :
1 slice bread, 2 servings veggies, 2 servings fruit, 1 serving non fat dairy and 2-3 ounces lean meat was 380 calories.
The can of soup that I had infront of my "plastic" meal was 400 calories.

Certainly, there are ways for every person to find what works for him or her.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to make your diet a bit more personalized:

1) Focus on health outcomes, not a number on a scale - sure, every diet can be evaluated for healthy and unhealthy components. Discover your own definition of "health"

2) Have a personalized approach to improving your body composition, performance/fitness and health. Avoid mass marketed diets - you are an individual, enjoy your one and only body.

3) Be sure your style of eating is family friendly. It should have flexibility and should be practical for the long-term (even after you "lose" weight or "get healthier".

4) Focus on behaviors - grocery shopping, cooking/meal prep, social eating, traveling and mindful eating.

5) Avoid fad diets - what should raise a red flag? According to Dr. Rodriguez: fad diets will show quick weight loss, expensive purchases, encourage a limited selection of foods (avoiding other foods), encourage skipping meals (or eating minimal times throughout the day), taking diet pills or diet products (or supplements in excess due to avoiding certain food groups) and/or encouraging weight loss without a physical activity component. Additional signs of a fad diet - it's magic, unlike anything ever tried before, it's a miracle, rigid menus.

How can you get started?
1) Journal your food - find your strengths and weaknesses. I can't tell you how many times people tell me they are eating "good" by eating a salad for lunch..but if only they could stop "binging" on sweets in the evening. When I counsel these patients, we address breakfast, snacking, meal composition and/or having a plan for alternatives. There's no right answer as to how one can approach dietary habits, it involves constant work and communication between dietitian and client. It may be hard at first, but it's worth it for the client.

2) Focus on small steps - imagine if you ate the same, moved your body 30 more minutes a day (ex. walking) and reduced your portion of 1 food item by 300 calories a day. Talk about an easy "diet". Spend a few days working on one or two small changes. Aim for progress, not perfection.

3) Plan for stress and feeling "off" in life, don't put blame on your body - don't wait until everything is perfect, because life will never be perfect. Address food patterns and behaviors associated with stressful, mindless eating can be powerful in terms of making changes. Your focus should be on taking life day by day and focusing on what you can control today, to make for a better tomorrow. Address the many areas in your life that can help you feel a bit more balanced.