Trying to get that summer body? It’s all about portion control

EVANSTON — As glimpses of summer can be seen between unpredictable snowfall, people are searching for ways to lose weight, follow a better diet, obey their restrictions or simply just eat better. According to registered dietician Suzanne Leland-Lym, whatever the reason, a healthy diet is all about portion control. 

Leland-Lym said portion control is the best diet a person can have — it just takes patience. 

“Portion control means, when you are going out, not to super-size,” she said. “If someone is trying to lose weight, sometimes all it takes is them getting a smaller plate, and putting food on the plate that looks the same, but is less,” Leland said. 

According to Leland-Lym, weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, cancer and more are reasons to see a dietician. Even diabetics, she said, can eat anything they want to, they just have to test their blood-sugar levels often and research carbohydrate values until they get used to it.

Instead of completely changing a person’s diet when they get sick, which only works for up to three months, Leland-Lym suggests something more long-term. 

“If we can get people to give six weeks of change, then they know where their carbohydrates are,” she said. “I am very moderate. I really believe in working with how the person is eating now and try not to get them to change too much.” 

Leland-Lym said she also stresses signs of “falling off the wagon.” She said it’s a reality for people to go into a care-free attitude after three months, so they have to figure out ways to stay on a steady eating path.

Many people have been told to eat fruits and vegetables since our parents played the train and tunnel game as they fed them to us from tiny glass jars. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s “My Plate,” fruits and vegetables should cover half of our plate.

However, Leland said if you don’t already consistently eat fruits and vegetables, she wouldn’t suggest that you start eating too many right away, and to start out with only a few changes at a time. 

“If you don’t eat fruits and vegetables, I’m not going to make you eat fruits and vegetables just like someone is not going to make me eat liver,” she said. “It’s really about portion control.

“When you go out, order whatever you want, eat half and take home the other half so that you aren’t feeling so controlled. You want to control the disease, not let the disease control you,” she continued. 

“Be aware of portion control and exercise, which is obviously something you have to talk to your doctor about, but exercising with the doctor’s advice goes hand-in-hand,” Leland-Lym said. 

Counting calories and fad diets are something to “earmark,” as she said. 

“If a diet illuminates any one food group, that’s a diet to stay away from. Good healthy eating involves all food groups,” Leland-Lym said. “It might get some weight loss, but unfortunately long-term weight loss has never been established through illuminating a food group; what goes in, goes out.”

She said there is a really good reason that humans have been on the earth so long, and that reason is adaptation. 

“In caveman times, you ate when it was plentiful … [but also] there were times of famine. That is why we store food, because our ancestors had times where they didn’t eat,” she said. 

According to Leland-Lym, one problem nowadays is that even though the adaptations that have worked well as a species to continue, it doesn’t work so well with modern society.  

She said she believes that clean eating is very important. Clean eating is making food from scratch, rather than using the conveniently packaged food. It’s important to know what the ingredients are, she said.

“If you are going to make a stew, you are going to use the raw carrots and use everything that we call clean,” she said.

Clean eating is useful for people who have celiac disease and have to maintain a gluten-free diet. 

Leland-Lym said eating healthy is all about balance. Calories in are calories that need to be used. 

“We’re all busy. Cooking is the last thing a lot of people want to take time on, so learning to cook ahead of time, like using a Crock-Pot … is a good idea,” she said. 

Her last tips for a healthy diet are to eat the vegetables that you love, and don’t be afraid to try new ones, and to change it around and don’t eat the same things every day. 

Leland-Lym is available one day a week for appointments at Evanston Regional Hospital, and referrals from a physician are required.

Save room for broccoli salad

Leland-Lym shared the following healthy recipe, courtesy “What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.”

This delectable broccoli-based recipe makes for a great meal in addition to helping you get your daily servings of fruits and veggies.


6 cups broccoli, chopped

1 cup raisins

1 medium red onion, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons sugar

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise


In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together. Put in refrigerator to chill for one to two hours before serving.

Nutritional Information

Servings: 8

Calories: 149

Total fat: 5g

Saturated fat: 1g

Cholesterol: 6mg

Sodium: 142mg

Total carbohydrates: 27 g

Dietary fiber: 3g

Total sugars: 17g

Protein: 3g

Calcium: 44mg

Iron: 1mg

Potassium: 371mg


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