We halved everything we cooked and realised we ate too much

Eating healthily can be hard, especially when you don’t have much time. If your cooking skill is limited, you’re also likely to have plenty of recipes under your belt that aren’t amazingly healthy for you but you love to have. You’re also likely to have plenty of convenience food such as jars of pasta sauce, portions of breaded meat, oven chips, and so on. That was the situation we were in. Our favourite meals are plates of pasta, Indian, and various different Mexican meals (enchiladas, tacos, nachos). Neither of us are keen on salad or fish – two staple components of ‘healthy’ meals.

We begun to realise that we were having quite large portions (but not enormous) because so many ingredients and products are designed for that in-between space where it’s just about enough for 4 people, but quite a lot for 2 people. We’d also be hungry whilst we cooked, so funnily enough would tend to cook too much.

The solution, we figured, was to just half everything but still eat the same meals. This was lightly inspired by The Hacker’s Diet which treats your body as a system; calories in must equal or be less than calories out and everything else is secondary. Hypothetically if you achieved this across all your meals you would half your daily intake of calories, though in reality we found it was easiest to just half the evening meal – our most substantial meal of the day – and keep breakfast and lunch similar (or miss lunch altogether).

Examples of meals that aren’t particularly healthy which we trivially halved:

  • Ready-made pasta sauce & pasta. Use half the jar and keep it in the fridge, half the number of handfuls of pasta.
  • Chicken curry. Make as usual but freeze half (or 3/4, if you already make enough for 2 servings) of it. Use half the amount of rice.
  • Any ready meal ‘for 1’. Share it.
  • Steak. Just use 1 steak!

All of this sounds pretty obvious, but when you actually try it you realise that you really don’t need all that extra food. Initially we would find ourselves quite a bit hungrier but over time it was clear that our bodies had adapted to how much we ate, and they quickly adapted to it being halved. In fact when we then went out for a meal one day we found ourselves getting full much faster because we weren’t used to eating so much.

The most important thing is to not change anything else. For example, don’t have more snacks, don’t make other meals larger, don’t have an extra meal, don’t start having desserts.

I guess this is pretty trivial, but it feels like ‘eating healthily’ focuses too much on what you eat rather than how much. In my opinion halving what you eat is much easier than changing what you eat.

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