When it comes to what you eat, yes, size really does matter and yes, you can have too much of a good thing! But what is too much, what does 'moderation' mean and how much should you be eating? Fact: When we serve up more food, we tend to eat more.
With so many products now becoming 'super-sized' we can very easily end up with portion distortion. What makes matters worse, are the varying views on what a serve looks like. Food Industry has unfortunately had a large part to play in this. They are often guilty of serving foods in what appear to be a single serve but are in fact >1 serve. For example, some beverages come in a 750ml bottle, which appears to be enough to drink in one sitting. On closer inspection of the food label, it becomes apparent that the bottle in fact contains 3 e serves! Pretty confusing, huh? However, putting the confusion aside, to avoid overeating pay careful attention to your hands......
Vegetables – You should aim to have 2 cupped-hands of vegetables on your dinner plate.
Carbohydrate – a clenched fist is the amount of carbohydrate you should have on your dinner plate. Carbohydrates include starchy vegetables (potato, sweetcorn, kumara, taro and yams), pasta, rice or bread.
Meat - The palm of your hand (excluding your fingers) and the thickness of your index finger should equal the portion of red meat, chicken and pork on your dinner plate. The portion for fish is the size of your whole hand.
Beverages - typically a single-serve is 250ml however, to keep calories in check, I think 200ml is much better guide! Remember, water (and plain milk) is the best choices to keep you hydrated.
Tips to help avoid portion distortion:
- Use a smaller dinner plate. The bigger the dinner plate, the more likely we are to fill it up and then eat everything on it!
- Fill your plate with vegetables first. Vegetables should make up 1/2 of your meal.
- Where you can, try buying foods in pre-determined portions/serves. For example a 150g pottle of yoghurt, a small bag of popcorn or a piece of fruit, which fits into the palm of your hand, is one serve.
- Separate/portion bulk foods into smaller bags or containers when you get home.
- Read food labels and stick to the recommended serve sizes. For example, if your box of cereal says it contains 20 serves, it should in theory last you about 3 weeks. If you run out of cereal before this either you are eating too much or someone else is raiding your cereal!
- Try to avoid eating food straight from the bag or box. It can be very difficult to gauge how much we have eaten and you may be surprised by how much you eat in one sitting. Instead portion what you are going to eat into a bowl or plate and stick to it - no going back for seconds!
- If eating with others, try to follow the lead of those who eat-less, rather than trying to keep up with the bigger eaters.