The trick to getting portions right

We are all guilty of overeating and we may not even realise it. 

How many of us really know what’s a good portion size? Such as, what is the recommended portion size for breakfast cereal? How many servings of carbohydrates should you aim to eat in a day? 

Portion size is important for weight control. In modern society, supersized foods are the order of the day, but cleaning our plate is still our ‘don’t waste food’ mantra, rather than simply being mindful of eating what we need. 

How do you learn to judge portion sizes? 

Take time to understand how much food your body needs. Your stomach is about the size of one fist but it can expand to double its size. It is very easy to overeat, and if you do so regularly, your stomach becomes used to being a larger size. That means you will need to eat larger portion sizes to keep feeling full, leading to weight gain. 

Listen to your body’s cues for food. Are you ‘hungry’ or just ‘peckish’? Sometimes you can even mistake hunger for thirst, so it’s important to keep hydrated by drinking water. If you are peckish, go for healthy foods which will sustain you until your next meal, such as carrots with homemade hummus dip. 

Don’t skip meals. If you don’t eat three square meals, you’re more likely to overeat, especially if you’re starving. 

Eat from a smaller plate. We tend to fill our plate with food and then feel compelled to finish it. Nip this behaviour in the bud by eating from a smaller plate. 

Avoid mindless eating. When you snack in front of the TV you are less mindful about how much food you are putting in your body. Your brain also has a harder time recognising when it is full. 

What portion size should you eat? 

The Department of Health and Ageing recommends that Australians eat a well-rounded diet, with foods from the five food groups, eating mostly vegetables, fruits and grains, with some lean meat and dairy products.
 

The tables below provide suggestions for healthy eating and recommended portion sizes, as suggested by the Department of Health and Ageing.

Read Food for Health, published by the Australian Government for more information.

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