Are you eating a well balance diet and still battling with your weight? It may be all down to your portion size.
It’s a well known fact that portion sizes have increased significantly over the past 25 years. Just walk into any restaurant and you’ll see waiters carrying plate after plate filled to the brim. What happens next is a shuffle of glasses and cutlery to make space on the table for what looks more like a tray rather than a plate.
This larger than life dining experience is being carried into our homes. Often we are so focused on eating the right type of food that we forget about portion size. The key to losing and maintaining your weight is to get the right portion sizes to meet your calorie needs. By eating a well balanced diet with main meals and snacks in the correct portion sizes your weight goals are one step closer to being achieved.
What is a perfect portion? For a main meal, consider filling one quarter of your plate with lean protein foods, another quarter with low GI carbohydrates and half with salad or vegetables as a good start. Portion control plates that provide specific guidance on how much of the plate to fill and to what depth are ideal.
Changing your portion sizes isn’t difficult, here are 5 tips to help you get started.
1. Assess your plate size
How large are your plates? When serving a meal we have the tendency to fill all the space that is available, naturally resulting in larger portion sizes. Start serving your main meals on a smaller plate or consider purchasing a portion control plate. These plates are clearly sectioned in to healthy servings for carbohydrates, proteins and fruit and vegetables. By using a portion plate initially you’ll become used to the portion sizes quicker, allowing you to soon identify these recommended servings regardless of the plate size.
2. Plan your meals
Planning your meals in advance not only helps to keep you organised but it also removes the temptation to resort to that last minute take away meal. Make a list of all the ingredients you need and take note of the correct serving sizes before hitting the supermarket. This will set you up for a more efficient shopping experience and you’ll fill your pantry and fridge with the correct amount of food.
Once you’re at home separate any food in multi-serve packets into the correct portion size. Place your meal plan and recipes in an easy to see location, this will encourage you to stay motivated and focused.
3. Practice mindful eating
Research has proven that we are no more satisfied when we eat larger portions, this means we can eat 20% more or less without even realising it. Instead of focusing on the size of your meal, take in the aroma and colours. Eat slowly to give your stomach time to send signals of satisfaction to the brain. This will help you to feel satisfied from a smaller portion.
4. Customise your restaurant experience
Although you are not cooking or serving the meal you still have control over your portion size. Restaurants generally serve large portion sizes so keep this in mind when you are ordering. If you’re not sure of the portion size have a quick glance at other diners or ask the waiter. Consider ordering an entree and a side instead of a main meal. If your meal comes out too large, portion your meal as you would at home. You can use a side plate to remove excess food or simply move it to one side of your plate.
5. Keep enjoying the food you love
Managing your weight doesn’t mean you have to cut out the foods you love, it’s about eating the correct portion. So instead of sitting down with a whole block of chocolate, eat one cube. When you know how much is right to eat, you can feel less guilty about treating yourself to your favourite foods.
About the Author
Amanda Clark is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and the creator of Portion Perfection, a visual weight control plan using actual portion diet plates and bowls. There’s also a version for those who have had weight loss surgery. For more information on portion control for weight loss visit www.greatideas.net.au