Piling up our plates with more food and energy than we need, will mean your body will store the excess as fat and over time will lead you to become overweight or obese – increasing your risk of developing a number of diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. On the other hand, not eating enough portions of some foods can mean you won’t be eating a balanced diet to provide your body with enough essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Understanding and tackling your portion sizes can have a great impact on your health as well as your waistline!
Check out Serving Sizes
Take a close look at suggested serving sizes on food labels. The nutrition information displayed per portion will reflect the suggested serving size and sometimes this can be smaller than you think it is. For example 500ml bottles of soft drinks often provide nutrition information for a serving size of 250ml – so if you are drinking the whole bottle you are drinking two portions and will be consuming more calories than you may think you are!
Tips For Reducing Portion Size
• Choose a smaller plate – serving a portion on a large plate can make it appear small and you may be tempted to add more, or opt for a plate with a large rim as then the centre of the plate is smaller so you will naturally serve yourself less food
• Try measuring your portions – sometimes it can be hard to judge what a healthy portion size is. Weighing out foods can help you be more controlled about how much food you prepare and cook, this can be useful for things like pasta, rice and foods in large sharing bags such as crisps
• Don’t pick at leftovers – as tempting as it may be to finish off what is left to prevent food waste put it in the fridge and save for the next day instead
• Don’t serve food from a serving dish on the table – you may be tempted to go for another helping if the food is sitting right in front of you
• Don’t be tempted to ‘go large’ – it may seem like value for money but this will mean you will be eating portion sizes larger than you may need and the likelihood is you’ll eat the whole portion even if you’ve told yourself you won’t. If you opt for a large portion, share it.
• Ask for less – many restaurant portion sizes are supersized but some now offer smaller portions as an alternative, or if you can’t see it on the menu ask your waiter/waitress for less.
The Eatwell Guide shows the five food groups and the proportions we need to eat them in to achieve a balanced diet to help us eat a range of different nutrients to keep us healthy. For good health the it also advises the below portions of certain foods:
Fruit and Vegetables: At least 5 different portions a day. 1 portion is 80g.
Red and Processed Meats: If you regularly consume over 90g a day, cut down to no more than 70g per day (no more than 500g, cooked weight, per week).
Fish: Eat two portions of sustainably sourced fish a week, one of which should be oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines). A portion is 140g (cooked weight).
Fruit Juice and Smoothies: Limit to a 150ml portion per day.
This article has been written by Lisa-Marie Huggins RNutr, Senior Nutritionist.