Over the past few years, portion sizes have been getting bigger. A lot bigger. In fact, the average
portion is now almost four times as large as it was in the 1950s. This is, of course, an enormous
increase, and a sign that, on the whole, we need to start cutting down.
So, how do you go about making sure you’re eating the right amount? We’ve set out a few pointers
to help you out:
Downsize your dishware
Believe it or not, the size of your plates can make a big difference to your portion sizes. Choose a
larger plate and you’re far more likely to pile it high with food than a smaller one.
To prevent this, try downsizing your dishware. Use smaller plates for meals, and try ramekins for
treats like ice cream, creamy soups, and snacks including nuts. Stick with it and this small change
could make a big difference to your portion sizes and overall calorie intake.
Be resourceful in restaurants
It’s incredibly easy to overeat in restaurants, especially nowadays, when each portion can be large
enough to feed three or four people. To cut down on your portion size, try sharing a dish with
somebody else. Or, if you’re beginning to feel full, get the waiter to put the rest in a doggy bag for
Measure your portions
This may sound obvious, but having a good idea of what exactly half a cup of rice looks like can have
a big impact on the size of portion you go for. Try visualising the size of everything you eat by
comparing them to everyday objects. To get you started, we’ve listed a few examples below:
– One cup = The size of one tennis ball
– Half a cup = A standard light bulb
– Two tablespoons = A golf ball
– One tablespoon = A poker chip
– 85 grams/3oz of meat = A deck of cards
– 85 grams/3oz of fish = A chequebook
– 43 grams/1.5oz of cheese = Three dice
Visualising your food in this way can help you to cut down on portion sizes (and save you time
Ditch the bag when bulk-buying
If you tend to buy things in bulk—large bags of crisps and nuts, for instance—divide the contents
into smaller Ziploc bags as soon as you get home. Not only will this keep the contents fresh, it’ll also
reduce your chances of overindulging. After all, few things are more dangerous to a dieter than a
family pack of crisps just waiting to be eaten.
Be conscious of others
This may come as a shock, but the amount of food eaten by those around you can make a big impact
on your own appetite. This phenomenon is known as the ‘consumption norm’, and means that if
your friends and family tend to eat large portions, the likelihood is that you’ll do the same. So, if
possible, try to avoid eating in close proximity to people who are likely to overindulge.
Leave your leftovers
If there are any leftovers when you’re plating your food, pack them away immediately. This way
they’ll be out of sight, out of mind, and far less likely to tempt you when you’ve finished your meal.
Perfect the ‘plate’ method
The ‘plate method is all about making sure you get the right amount of vegetables, proteins, and
carbohydrates. To put it into practice, fill half of your plate with vegetables, then fill the remaining
half with one quarter protein and one quarter carbohydrates. When you’re eating your meal, start
with the vegetables, move onto the protein, and if you’re not full by this point, move onto the carbs.
This way, if you don’t finish your meal, you’ll only be missing out on the carbs.
Stay on schedule
Fewer things are more damaging to maintaining a healthy diet than getting ravenously hungry and
binge-eating. To avoid this, try to eat small, regular meals interspersed with a few healthy snacks
throughout the day.
Another trick is to get into the habit of preparing meals before you need them. This will prevent you
from finding something to eat on impulse and overindulging as a result.
Know the difference between serving sizes and portion sizes
Contrary to popular belief, serving sizes and portion sizes are not always the same thing. In fact, the
two can often be vastly different. For instance, many packs of cereal list a serving size of 50g on their
nutritional labels, whereas a portion should only come in at around 30g. Bear this in mind when
calculating calories and nutritional values.