In the modern world we have become confused about portion sizes. Larger plates, supersize meals and the temptation to snack our way through an entire pack of biscuits is causing us to think that larger portions are a normal way of life. The UK offers no official guidelines on portion sizes and there is no law requiring food manufacturers to tell consumers how much food counts as a single serving. This is causing big problems for our health, as around 62% of adults are considered overweight and 25% are considered obese!
Eating larger portions than you need each meal time means that the extra calories you take in will most likely end up being stored as fat. Even if you aren’t considered ‘obese’, being overweight in itself does carry with it a lot of health risks, including an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. To know whether you are considered ‘overweight’, you can use a BMI calculator. Whilst this isn’t a definitive guide because it doesn’t take into account how muscular you are, the following shows a general BMI guide:
For most adults, a BMI of:
If you find that you are overweight, or even if you are a healthy weight, then cutting down your portion sizes might be the technique you need to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. So, how are you going to motivate yourself to reduce portion sizes?
There are lots of different techniques which can help you to reduce your overall portion sizes and knowing how large a portion of food should be is the first step. For example, experts say that a normal portion of cooked meat would be 60 – 90g, a normal portion of pasta or rice would be 75g (uncooked) or a normal portion of cereal would be 40g.
Motivating yourself to actually stick to a smaller portion size can be difficult, so there are a few techniques you could try to give yourself that extra push. Firstly, try using a smaller plate. Plate sizes have slowly increased over the years, so don’t be fooled into thinking you need a large dinner plate. Fill a smaller side plate with food and you’ll be on the right track.
You’ll also want to try putting prompts up around the kitchen or anywhere you might normally eat food, reminding yourself to cut down on your portions. Sometimes, we snack or eat on autopilot, so having a note stuck to the fridge, the cupboard or the kitchen door will be a constant reminder to yourself to watch your portions.
More advice and tools to help you with portion control are available at Find Your Balance.