Plan On Seconds: Why It’s The Solution, Not The Problem

People eating with small platesOverconsumption begins at the plate. This is because the amount you feel hungry for over-estimates the body’s actual need.

A common motherly phrase is that “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”. And like most bits of motherly wisdom, this is true! And the sciency way to say this is that “Your psychology overestimates your physiology” (how much you feel you need is greater than your body’s caloric requirements).

So how do we fix this little problem and still eat enough at the family meal so that mama doesn’t think that we are A) starving to death, or B) hate her food, lol??

A very simple strategy to counter this over-estimate is to plan on seconds. Although this sounds wrong, its actually a great strategy to control the over-consumption that starts at the plate.

Here’s how it goes:

  • When you plate your food, put an amount on that you feel like is about just a bit less than you are hungry for.
  • By serving an amount that is just a bit less than your overly inflated expectations, you end up with the right amount for your body’s needs!
  • Make sure to take your time and enjoy the meal for at least 20 minutes.
  • Then check in with your body. Are you still hungry? Do you need more? What you will find is that Planning on Seconds with this method actually prevents you from over-consumption!



Curried Turkey Soup

Turkey, turkey, turkey… what to do with the extra turkey? Give this turkey recipe a try.

You’ll Need

  • 6 cups turkey stock
  • 1 cup peeled apples, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cooked turkey, diced



  • Simmer stock, apples, onion, salt and curry for 30 minutes.
  • Puree in blender. Return to pot.
  • Add garlic powder, buttermilk and turkey to the stock.
  • Heat just to the boiling point, but do not allow to come to a full boil.

Ruinous Sage Sausage Stuffing

Why ruinous? This recipe has honestly ruined me on all others. I can’t do them, I can’t eat them, I can’t even look at them without weeping because I don’t have this stuffing. 
This is a recipe you’ll need to do the day before. But the good news is that, once you throw it all together, it gets covered up and thrown into the fridge. That way you just toss it in the oven about 45 minutes before serving time for a no-muss-no-fuss, plate of deliciousness! 
The measures below are guesses, but should be close – trust your judgment if you think you need more or less of something and let me know how this comes out!
You’ll Need: 
  • One small cornbread (in 8 inch iron skillet)
  • One baguette (sliced and lightly toasted)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped water chestnuts
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (diced)
  • ½ lb of sage breakfast sausage (cooked and crumbled)
  • 2 raw eggs
  • Chicken stock
  • Rubbed sage
  • Salt/pepper
Crumble the breads, then mix in the chopped veggies, eggs and sausage. 
Whisk the raw eggs and gently mix them in, adding chicken stock as needed to get a moist/wet mixture. Add seasonings to taste (it takes quite a bit of the sage). 
Pack It
into a baking dish, add a little extra chicken stock to make sure it does not dry out. 
Bake it
for about 30 minutes or until brown on top. 

Pace Controls Portions

Man and Woman at home eating in a hurryHere’s an appetizer of common sense before we get into the meat of this article. If you have weight to be lost, you are most likely consuming more than your body requires for energy. But here’s the problem. The amount you eat is the amount you are hungry for. Therefore the amount you are hungry for is greater than your calorie burn rate.

Right? That’s easy math. And the solution to this little equation is to be able to eat all you want, but have that amount be equal to the amount your body needs.

Bear in mind that the amount of food your body asks for is only partly determined by how many calories you have burned during your day. It is also driven by how fast you eat your meal. The faster you eat your food, the more you will be hungry for.

The reason for this has to do with what’s going on in your brain. Certain hormones are generated in your body as you eat, and signal to your brain that you are full. The problem is that they take about 15 minutes to be perceived by your brain.

Because of this delay, when you eat very quickly, you can actually be full but (because of the signal delay up to your brain) you won’t perceive the signal yet. In other words, you overrun the signal when you gobble your turkey, and this creates overconsumption.

Bottom line? Pace controls portions.

A delicious way to control eating pace is to — and this is totally crazy — taste your food. You may read that and think, of course I’m tasting my food, it’s in my mouth isn’t it? But remember that your taste buds are only at your tongue. So when you take gigantic bites most of it never gets tasted, only swallowed.

Also, when you inhale your meal in 2 minutes as if speed-eating were an Olympic sport, the food doesn’t spend enough time on your tongue to be tasted anyway. This advice sounds so simple, but it turns out that this can actually help you control overconsumption.

Man Tasting SauceReally tasting your food is an aspect of eating mindfully which, when you practice this practice, causes a number of things happen. A focus on flavor leads you to choose higher quality foods, which naturally have the lower sugars and higher fiber content that create satiety in your body.

But this approach also causes you to slow down your eating pace while you enjoy your food. A slower pace allows your brain to sense that you are full before overeating. Finally, mindful eating engages a neural reflex called sensory specific satiety. This means that when you taste something completely, your brain temporarily turns down the cravings for that flavor.

Slow down your eating pace, taste your food, and see how this changes how much your body is hungry for.

Cranberry Apple Sauce

Cranberries are in season! Give this recipe a try, as you may want to consider incorporating into your upcoming holiday feast.

You’ll Need:

  • 6 medium apples peeled, cut into small pieces (Gala, and Pacific Rose work well)
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar (start with less and add to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons apple juice or other fruit juice


  • Place apples and cranberries in food processor and pulse several times to chop.
  • Add sugar and juice; process until pureed.
  • Refrigerate 3 hours before serving.

How To Train Your Brain For Portion Control

CG Brain Lifting WeightsPeople will say, “I eat a lot because I am just that hungry.” However, it is closer to the truth to say that you are that hungry BECAUSE you eat a lot.

In other words, we train our brains to expect a certain volume of food. This happens physiologically and psychologically with the amount of food that you feel like is an appropriate amount for you.

Basically, if you eat large amounts, your body will start to assume that that higher volume is normal.

The good news is that the opposite is just as true. If you eat small bites, taste your food, and take your time with it, the amount of food you consume at a meal will decrease. If you are consistent with this practice, over time your body will start to assume that that lower threshold is normal.

This puts your body and brain in training!

This adaptation happens psychologically (how much you feel like you should eat), chemically (how much your brain senses you should eat before registering that you are full), and physically with the size of your stomach.  This is very good news because it means you can sculpt how much food your body craves.

Eat all you want. Just want less.

Mashed Maple Sweet Potatoes

A fabulous way to use the in season sweet potatoes. Give this one a try and decide if you want to feature it at your Thanksgiving spread.

You’ll Need

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk


  • In a medium saucepan cook potatoes, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 30 to 35 minutes or until very tender; then drain.
  • Mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed.
  • Add maple syrup, butter, and salt.
  • Gradually beat in enough milk to make potato mixture light and fluffy.

Benefits of Portion Control

Mom Daughter and Son Confused by Dairy ChoicesOverweight, obesity, and the chronic disease conditions they bring are serious health concerns around the world. In the past we have often blamed certain molecules for the problem, such as fats, or carbohydrates, or sugars.

So solve this problem, we were coached that X% of the food you put in your mouth should be carbs, Y% should fats, and Z% should be made up of proteins. And it seems like every year someone had a new diet with a different ratio they wanted you to calculate for your meal.

This is so confusing!

Who can do that in the course of a crazy busy life? Who WOULD do it? Many people gave it a go, but zero people can live like that for long. And certainly no healthy culture around the planet micromanages molecules like this.

Portion Distortion Comparison

So maybe the real culprit is far easier simpler to understand.

Over the past 30 years overall calorie consumption has increased. One reason for this that, since the 1960s, portion sizes and even the size dinner plates themselves have increased each decade. With increasing volumes, obviously those higher volumes came with higher calories.

Maybe the real culprit is simply overconsumption? Maybe eating too much can lead to the excess calories that turn into excess weight?

This month will focus on reversing the overconsumption trend for your long term health. Here are some of the principles we’ll cover.

  • When you eat in control, the amount of food your body consumes becomes self-limiting. So instead of gobbling your food, take your time with it.
  • Food choice matters too. Higher quality foods leads to lower quantity consumption.
  • Real foods naturally have no additive sugars and more fiber in them. This combination leads to greater satisfaction at the meal and therefore controlled consumption.
  • By contrast, processed food products have less nutrients, natural fats, and fiber, which leaves you hungry for more. So you get less nutrition and more calories in the process!
  • By controlling the quality of the food you eat, and the amount you consume of it, in the end you will be able to eat all you want, but just want less.