RULE: Portion Control

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good smorgasbord.  At social gatherings, be it a football tailgate, a friend’s birthday, or a cookout celebrating nothing at all,  I was always found by the food table which showcased the treasures each guest brandished as they crossed the threshold.

I found it thrilling to discover the numerous variations of dishes combining the same enticing ingredients: cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.

Throw in some spinach or artichokes and I would pretend it’s a salad! Add in my deliciously crispy friend, bacon, and I’d be voraciously scoffing down these various concoctions

(concoctions which, by the way, are often ingested by Hollywood actors ‘needing to gain weight for an upcoming role’)

Usually on a large chip.

Why is it that:

A) when we gather, we gather with, for, over and around food?


B) the food we choose to gather around gives us clogged arteries, fatty liver, and large waistlines to boot?

Is it because, historically, food was so scarce, that when a hunt or harvest was successful a celebration ensued?

Celebration or not, If you’re like me, if its on my plate, its going down the food shoot. If I put 3 scoops of mac n’ cheese or 3 pieces of meat lovers pizza on my plate, it’s gonna get eaten.  If I order appetizers and an entree and dessert, I’m polishing off all three courses!  So limit what you order. You can always order more.

Limit what you put on your plate.

A trick I employ at home is using a small salad plate instead of a dinner plate, or a coffee mug instead of a bowl for ice cream or cereal. I use smaller spoons and forks as well.  I now sometimes feel like a lilliputian when out to dinner and using the restaurant’s enormous flatware.

But the most important thing I tell my patients about portion control is the PLATE RULE and the quality of their choices (see RULES: Eat Fruits and vegetables at every meal & Brown is Better)


Before serving yourself in a buffet line or as you’re ordering, divide your plate in half in your mind. Half of your plate should be filled with fruits and/or vegetables and these should be eaten first.  (And BTW, potatoes are not vegetables) The other half of the plate should be divided in to quarters.  1/4 is your protein (see section on low fat protein options) and the other 1/4 is your starch (bread, potatoes, pasta, rice OR Dessert—but really your starch should be none of these, but instead, all WHOLE GRAINS); and the 1/4 sized portions should fit in to the palm of your hand.  So a palm-sized serving of fish or chicken, for example and a palm-sized serving of mashed potatoes, if you must. And EITHER a starch OR dessert— because starches all break down in to the same thing: sugar! And all of them have high glycemic indexes (spike your blood sugar indirectly making you store fat).

Eventually, when you are more disciplined, your 1/4 plate of starches should become replaced by more what? You guessed it: Fruits and veggies!

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Madeleine Vanstory attended Duke University and began her post-graduate journey at The Elaine Clark Center working with special needs children. She went on to work as a Clinical Research Scientist running clinical trials for the CDC and developing medical devices for Welsh Allen, Abbot Labs, Roche and Johnson & Jonhson Her work included non-invansive cervical cancer detection, continuous diabetic glucose monitoring, non-harmful infant bilirubin level detection and studying Vitamin C's anti-aging effects on the skin. Madeleine attended Medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed a residency in Family Medicine at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro NC. Dr. Madeleine Vanstory is a board certified Family Physician who has practiced all over the world. She has lead medical missions in Kenya and Honduras. She has participated with Operation Smile in Russia, she has patients in North Carolina, Maine, Oregon and New Zealand. Dr. Vanstory has worked the medical tents in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC and at the Kona Ironman World Championships. And Dr. Vanstory has marched with the Surgeon General promoting "Exercise is Medicine" at the World Congress Sports Medicine Conference. Disillusioned by the current health care system and armed with the realization that culture, nutrition and emotional well-being have a profound impact on health, Dr. Vanstory now motivates clients and patients to discover the healthiest versions of themselves through humor, counseling in her "Upgrade Your Health" Wellness Program.

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