HealthDoctor Karen

Yes, portion size matters

Eating out? Order a small portion if out having a high calorie dinner
Eating out? Order a small portion if out having a high calorie dinner

Consumers regard portion sizes as being relevant only to those dieting, more important to women and not an issue for men or younger adults, a new report from safefood reveals.

It found that food products with health or nutrition claims like ‘low-fat’ or ‘reduced fat’ may also be contributing to weight gain, as many people assume these products are lower in calories than they really are so consume a larger portion.
Commenting, Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health & Nutrition, Safefood says: “While we are now familiar with the idea of healthy eating, we’re less familiar with the idea of healthy portion sizes. Traditionally, we’ve been brought up to finish everything on our plate and we tend to equate bigger portions with generosity and value.
“But with two in three adults overweight or obese, the issue of portion size is relevant to all of us - we need to cut down on the portions we’re eating of most foods”.
Research shows that one in three people say they find it difficult to manage portion sizes.  Eating an extra 100 calories a day can lead to weight gain of 4.5kg (10lb) a year.
Watching your portion sizes is a great way to prevent this. Whether you are eating in, eating out or food shopping, here are some tips to help you get your portion sizes right.
Eating in...
  • Eat slowly.
  • Use a smaller plate.
  • Fill a third of your dinner plate with vegetables or salad.
  • Instead of eating from a large packet, serve a single portion into a bowl.
  • Serve food on individual plates to avoid second helpings.
  • Freeze or chill left-overs right away so you are not tempted to go back for more.
  • Avoid eating while watching TV as it’s easy to overeat when you are distracted.
  • If you enjoy a high calorie snack, have the one-pack serving size.
  • Have a small glass or wine or beer rather than a large one.
Eating out...
  • If you order a high calorie food such as pizza or chips, order a small size.
  • Order a half portion, have a starter as your main meal or split a dessert.
  • You don’t have to finish your plate. Ask for a doggy bag and take leftovers home.
Eating in...
  • Don’t buy the foods you overeat on.
  • Make a list - only buy what’s needed.
  • Check the number of portions in pre-packaged foods – a pack may contain more than one portion.
  • If you are buying treat foods, buy snack sizes and only have one. 
  • Buy single portions on the go so you won’t be tempted by bigger pack sizes
Remember, children are smaller and don’t need adult-sized portions. Kids and  teens should be encouraged to try everything on their plate, but let them decide  when they’ve had enough – never force them to clear their plate.