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Portion sizes

Portion size – an important key to a healthy eating

Did you know that to eat well not only means having a variety of healthy foods each day but also being aware of the size of our food and drink servings?

If you are tuning-up your eating habits, then it is important to also check on the portion sizes of food and drinks that you buy or serve onto your plate, as this is one very important step to having a healthy and balanced diet for life.

Beware of upsizing

Over the years, the ‘regular’ meal and drink sizes and suggested serve sizes on many food packets have increased, and have often lost touch with what’s recommended.

We can also find ourselves tempted by marketing and promotions offering us more food or drink for the same price, especially in takeaway meal deals.

Larger serves on larger plates have also crept into our diets and become the norm when in fact, for most of us, smaller serves would be better for our overall health.

Problems of large portions

Larger serve sizes, whether at home or eating out, can often cause us to:

  • over-eat
  • take in many extra unwanted kilojoules and gain too much weight
  • make our diets unbalanced
  • upset our digestive system and trigger indigestion symptoms such as bloating or belching
  • blow out our weekly food budgets.

A healthy serve for healthy adults

Take a look at the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating to get a better idea about the number of serves and recommended serving sizes you need from each of the five food groups every day, so you can keep yourself healthy and active.

The healthy dinner plate

These four steps will help you serve up a healthy food plate:

  1. choose a medium-sized plate or bowl, and avoid large ones
  2. now fill half of your dinner plate with a variety of tasty, colourful cooked vegetables or salad
  3. next add lean protein foods such as meat, fish, chicken or legumes (chick peas, lentils, kidney beans etc) to take up a quarter of the plate
  4. finally, complete the meal by adding in grain foods such as rice, pasta or noodles to take up the remaining quarter of the plate.

Now enjoy!

Snack serves – be smart

If you need a snack, go for small portions of healthy choices and take care to limit the ‘sometimes’ foods such as:

  • lollies
  • chocolate
  • cakes
  • biscuits
  • soft drinks
  • cordials
  • butter and cream.

As they have little nutritional value and are generally higher in fat, salt, sugar and/or kilojoules.

If eaten too often or in large amounts they can quickly put your diet out of balance.

If you do need a snack, check out these great healthy snack ideas.

More top tips for better portion control

Here are some very easy ways to manage the size of your food and drink serves:

  • eat portions that suit your own appetite and energy needs
  • keep portions moderate in serve size and, if it helps, use smaller plates or bowls
  • when eating out say “no thanks” to upsizing or supersizing
  • eat slowly and stop eating when you have had enough. Don’t feel pressured to clean up the plate
  • avoid going back for seconds, particularly at smorgasbords, or alternatively fill up on extra cooked vegetables or salads and then finish the meal with some fruit
  • avoid distractions, for example watching the telly, when eating
  • limit sugary drinks so you’re only having them occasionally and in smaller serves (375mls or less). Plain tap water is actually the best and cheapest thirst quencher
  • if having a latte or cappuccino, swap over to the smaller size and have it made with low fat milk, and preferably without sugar
  • when buying takeaway meals, check the serving size and also the kilojoule counts if available on their menu boards – and don’t forget to include cooked vegetables or fresh salads with your order
  • if only a large serve is available, share it instead or make it last over two meals
  • share a dessert or occasional foods such as a slice of cake or muffin and go for the healthier option by choosing ones with fruit and leaving off the cream.

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