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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Portion Control

When it comes to losing weight and then keeping it off long term, it all comes down to portion sizes. Sure we may know that a restaurant meal out has a few more calories than we would usually enjoy at dinner, but an issue that we consider far less often is the insidious ways in which we eat extra calories numerous times throughout the day – a slightly larger slice of bread, an extra teaspoon or two of oil on the salad or simply eating from a larger plate just a few of the ways in which our portions tend to gradually increase over time, as does our weight.

The good news is that once you have a much clearer idea of what a portion of food should be it is relatively easy to cut back and ultimately it is a small number of cut backs spread over a range of food decisions that equates to weight control.

Food                             Portion Size                                          No of serves a day

Fruit                              1 medium piece or ¾ cup                       2

Vegetables                    ½ cup cooked or raw                              Min of 2-3 cups

Milk                                200ml                                                   3-4 dairy serves

Yoghurt                         100ml / ½ cup                                       3-4 dairy serves

Cheese                           30-40g or 2 slices                                  1 serve/day

Lean meat/chicken         100-150g cooked (palm size)                  1-2/day

Fish                              150-200g (hand size)                              1-2/day            

Rice/pasta                     ½ cup cooked                                        1-2/day

Breakfast cereal ¾ cup                                                   1 serve/day

Oil                                1 tspn                                                   1-2 serves/day

Avocado                        ¼ medium or 2 tbsp                               1 serve/day

Multigrain bread             2 small slices                                        1 serve/day

Wine                             120ml or 1 small glass                           1-2/day

Chocolate                      20g or 2-4 squares                                 1 serve/day

Nuts                             10-15 or 30g                                          1 serve/day

Sauces                         1 tbsp                                                   1-2 serves/day


Tip for portion control

1) Always measure breakfast cereal and rice/pasta serves using a measuring cup.

2) Keep kitchen scales handy to check meat portions and serving sizes.

3) Measure out sauces and oils rather than pouring haphazardly.

4) Purposely look for small slices of bread when shopping.

5) Use grated cheese or invest in a cheese slice to control portions.

6) Measure out serves of dip and cheese when serving platters.

7) Only carry portion controlled snacks of nuts and crackers.

8) Remember your plate ratios of ¼ protein, ¼ carbs and ½ vegetables or salad.

9) Serve desserts and treats in small bowls and glasses.

10) Always order a small or piccolo sized coffee.


Portions Visually

Meat = i-phone

Cheese = Make up compact

Carbs = Computer mouse

Bread = no bigger than your hand

Rice = Asian bowl

Wine = ½ teacup

Sauce = 20c piece


One of the biggest is issues to consider when it comes to portion control is that when we enjoy meals away from home, at a restaurant, café or even someone else’s home, that they are likely to consume at least 20-30% more calories. Extra oil, sauces and added fats via cheese and butter are just a few of the reasons for this. Added to this relatively large serving sizes of meat compared to small serves of vegetables, extra bread and possibly coffee and dessert, such a feeding frenzy can easily give you 500-600 extra calories without even trying.


Take control of this by sharing large meals where possible.

Order extra sides of soup and salad to fill up on low calorie foods.

Order entrée sizes meals and do not be afraid to ask for leftovers to be packaged up to take home.

Finish one glass of wine before starting another.

Move the bread basket out of sight and reach.

Ask for extra sauces to be served on the side.

Practice eating only ½ of large serves of sandwiches.

Remove the lid from burgers and steak sandwiches.

Ask for chips to be replaced with salad.

Look for child serve options of burgers, sandwiches, ice creams and fish meals.

Practice becoming comfortable not eating everything on your plate.

Never arrive at a smorgasbord or food court hungry.

In you are dining out where there are large volumes of food readily available, yum cha; decide how many serves you will eat before you get there. Such a mental rule makes it easier to stop eating.

One of the most important concepts to grasp if your goal is to lose weight and keep it off is moderation. A one off dessert or chocolate bar will not result in weight gain, but repeatedly eating more calories on a daily basis from larger portion sizes than you need will. For this reason, keeping constantly mindful of how much you are eating, and whether you really need this much is a crucial thing to keep at the forefront of your mind if your goal is weight control.