The various “Secrets to Dieting Everyone Needs to Know” pieces have been circulating for probably as long as print media has been in production. While there are many myths circulating within all of these articles, this one stated above really has been one that is commonly misunderstood and is dangerous to the health if not applied correctly. It is “secrets” like this one grabbing the attention of those people seeking help that can end up putting people into harms path. Lately, I heard someone mention one should portion food to fit into the size of a fist, as in the amount of food eaten per meal should be the size of a fist. There are so many issues with this false statement, so today I would like to help those of you looking for health and happiness to some truth to why this statement can put one into harms path and is merely a myth.
Okay, so there is a slight truth to this statement going around of the human body. Yes, the human stomach is around the size of ones’ fist. Is it absolutely always the truth? No, each human body has been drawn up differently, no one is 100% alike, it’s what makes us each individually beautiful. The stomach is around the size of a fist when completely empty. Thus, when we eat, it contracts to hold food digested. Contracting is a normal process, it does not mean the stomach will grow and thus one will gain weight due to the increase in size. Once the food in your body has been fully digested, it will go back to normal.
Traveling Food Digestion Route & Time Frame:
Depending on the food digested, the times of food traveling through the digestive track will widely vary. Many people find 4-5 hours max for most foods, excluding animal flesh. Vegetables and fruits will digest faster as these need less time to breakdown (aka travel through the body). Thus, vegans get to eat more often seeing as food travels through the body faster than carnivores. Food goes into the stomach reservoir first but does not stay there long, rather, it speeds towards the intestines for longer periods of time of digestion.
Stomach: 2-3 hours to empty 50% & To completely empty around 4-5 hours (depends on food eaten)
Small Intestine: Most digestion happens here – 20′ long
Large Intestine: Water is Absorbed here – 5′ long
Final Digestion Exit: Anus
Reason Why This is a Myth:
So if the size of the stomach is around the size of ones’ fist, why is this statement a myth? Well, as seen above, food only rents a room for max around 4-5 hours and then starts the process of traveling through the small intestine. The small intestine does vary among each body, however, it is usually around 20 feet in length. This means the food you eat does not just stick sitting around rotting in the stomach but rather goes on a tour of your body. So eating a fist size amount of food does not make a person a) full for a long enough period of time, and b) give the adult human body enough nutrients/calories to last a long enough period of time. Additionally, food has different density, so 1 fist-sized amount does not amount to enough for some types of food.
Just to show density differential per 100 calorie of popular foods…
A person that follow the fist-size idea will miss out on a lot of deliciously healthy produce items and protein. Sparkpeople has a lot of wonderful examples of photographed foods on plates per 100 calories. A person that wishes to have asparagus, for example, will only be able to have 1-2 asparagus instead of a full serving, if using the fist-sized amount rule. Additionally, the diner will only eat around 20 calories if using the fist-sized rule for asparagus.
So, take this information for what you wish but I do urge you all to do some research and find out more information. Numerous research studies have found an adult needs to have no less than 1,200 calories per day for all organs to function correctly. Less than 1,200 calories will reduce the efficiency of organs and brain function, a reduction may not be seen right away but it does happen slowly over time and will catch up over time. All of you are beautiful and special to this world, I hope all of you will accomplish your dreams along the healthy path.