11 Ways to Reign in Your Portion Sizes

Forget counting calories, that is so old school. We now know that kilojoules are not created equal, and eating a strict number of calories doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a healthier leaner body nor a nutritious diet.  But….Let’s focus on something else that’s takes a lot less effort plus it’ll reframe the way you approach what you eat.

By focussing on your portion sizes, you’ll be surprised at how a simple and effective a non-diet modification can be.

If you have a bit (or a lot) of portion distortion going on are you aware of it? And what are the right portions anyways, I hear you say?

Well for starters it comes down to habits, which were probably formed in childhood when we were told to ‘eat everything on our plate”. We relied on our parents to dictate how hungry we were and if we didn’t then there was no way dessert was on offer. It was kind of like a loaded dice, eat more now so you can eat more later.. we lost our internal cues of hunger along the way.

External factors are also at work with bigger servings meaning better value for money when eating out. “Wow, what a bargain .. all these hot chips for $2!”. “Great, refillable softdrink for $4”           Sound familiar?

So what are the guidelines to follow for portion sizes? 

Serving sizes on food labels is not telling you the amount you should be eating. The serving size is a guide to help you see how many calories and nutrients — as well as how much fat, sugar, and salt — are in a specific quantity of that food. (source)  A portion size, on the other hand, is the amount of food you eat in one sitting, regardless of how much your body actually needs. See the difference?

Here’s an example

portion sizes

 It’s more an understanding how much food our bodies need as opposed to how much it wants.

Portion control tips

portion illusion

  1. Practice mindful eating. (slowly, chewing, taking breaths etc)
  2. Serve food on smaller plates so meals look larger. See the example I prepared earlier 😉
  3. Try single-serving sizes to help your family learn what an appropriate portion is.
  4. Maintain a steady supply of energy with balanced meals so you’re not tempted to overeat.
  5. Dish out portions to a bowl rather than taking a whole packet of something. Morish means morish!
  6. Fill up on salads and vegetables this adds bulk to your meal and can trick us into thinking we are eating a lot.
  7. Try sharing meals at restaurants or ordering appetisers as mains, then you wont be tempted to get your monies worth!
  8. Separate large cook-ups or bulk buys straight away and store them accordingly. That way, you won’t be tempted to over serve yourself.
  9. Don’t be fooled into thinking there is better value in a larger smoothie or muffin. Be happy with a smaller version, its really not worth it.
  10. Dish out meals at the counter and avoid bringing the whole pot to the table. Not keeping the food at arm’s length can make your family think twice about reaching for seconds. If they do want seconds, offer more veggies or salads.
  11. Allow children to dictate (to an extent) how much they eat. We fill up faster on nutrient dense foods opposed to empty sugar laden calories.  A great way to help teach kids is with the help of a portion control plate.

Healthy Active Kids has teamed up with Ironmum Karla with a portion prize pack that helps distinguish what food groups make up a balanced meal for children.

The prize pack consists of  

portion plate,

apron and

lunchbox stickers (also portion related)

healthy active kids

and I have 2 packs to giveaway to two lucky ducky’s!

If you would like to win one of these packs for your child simply leave a comment below.

Winners will drawn and contacted on Monday 11th May 2015 12pm AEST, so please make sure you leave an email address or I wont be able to contact you!

Healthy Active Kids is a global program which focuses on improving basic knowledge of nutrition and physical activity levels in children around the world. The global program is aimed at improving the nutritional status of school children aged 6 – 16 years old and includes both nutrition education and physical activity programs at the national level.

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  • Lydelle

    OH my god….. one thumb tip is the correct serving of nut butter… sooooo that’s where I’m going wrong. I do a heaped tablespoon lol

    • I know!! Pass me the spoon please ha ha

    • kate

      Umm marrr! I do a heaped tea spoon! Oopps! These tips need to be taught at school, the kids could take a pamphlet home to their parents

      • Simple life skills that just get skipped in the school system, where learning is comprised through poor nutrition. It’s crazy stuff Kate!

  • Karen Cuthbert

    These look fantastic! I have an almost 8 year old who we are trying to get to understand how much is enough food – just yesterday he had a full healthy lunch at school and then complained to his teacher he was hungry and they gave him another sandwich – even though he had already eaten a lovely fresh ham and cheese roll :-/ These would be great to show him how much a portion should be, he is one of those kids who will eat until he makes himself sick

    • Oh dear Karen, is there something you could perhaps try like a few small healthy snacks so he isn’t getting to the point of being so hungry at a certain meal time and then overfeeding himself? I know kids don’t like to stop and take the time to eat but it may help?

      • Karen Cuthbert

        It seems to be a real problem for him at school, his teacher i feel is someone who doesnt quite understand portion sizing and overeating. They have a crunch and sip break where he has fruit and water in the morning, then lunch 1 they can eat whatever they like so he empties his lunchbox (fruit, veg, snack and a main – today was rice and thai chicken balls) :-/ His teachers solution is just pack an extra sandwich for him but that wont solve the issue.

        I found some portion size info geared towards kids while having a little look around the net this evening, will sit down with him again and have a chat.

        It is so important for kids to learn, sadly upsized meals are the norm these days

        • Hmm, yes it sounds like he needs something with some sustenance a bit earlier in the day. The food you pack sounds great. How is his breakfast? Does he eat it? Is he going to school topped up? If he isn’t a big breakfast eater then it’s usually because kids are eating too much dinner and a few little tweaks are needed.

          • Karen Cuthbert

            His breakfast is good and he polishes everything off. I am starting to send lots of small containers with him to school, hopefully that will mean he can only take a few and still have some left for his second break….hopefully! Just got to figure out what will fill him up and keep him satisfied. Trying chia pudding today

        • Hay Karen, can you please email me your postal details, I thought you were a very worthwhile winner for the prize pack 😉

          • Karen Cuthbert

            Oh wow Karla, thank you! And thank you so much for your replies, just to get some different ideas and a different perspective 🙂

  • Karen Steeles

    What a fabulous idea!!! Thanks for sharing all your amazing information Karla. I would love to see all children have these plates…. Brilliant idea xxxx

  • Kylie

    Excellent idea! With a child who has a tendency to overeat, this pack would be perfect!