Portion Sizes


Portion sizes in restaurants have definitely got bigger, the trouble is that everyone is given the same size helping which is fine for my 6 foot 4” 88 kg husband who needs a lot of calories but for me at 5 feet 6” and 60kg  I don’t need to eat as much as he does!

Many places offer an all-you-can-eat buffet;  these can be deadly, choose what you want then move- away- from- the -table, it’s far too tempting to hover around the buffet spread and keep toping up your plate.  It’s like watching a game of Tetris as people load their plate to pile as much food as they possibly  without dropping a single pea on the return trip to their table.

What would be good to see on menus is a smaller meal option at a reduced cost which might encourage people to eat less and save pennies?

I know what you’re saying; it’s a treat when you go out so why can’t you eat until you’re so full up you can’t breathe?  It is fine now and again but not when we’re doing this at home too.

We all have different calorie needs, if differs between men and women and can change throughout our lives, for example during pregnancy for women or an  athlete will need more energy than a sedentary person who will not burn  a  vast amount of calories throughout the day.

I’ll use the analogy of a mini car, a sports car and a three ton lorry; their tanks are designed to hold an adequate amount of fuel, the fuel gets used and is then replaced as it’s needed. You can’t store the fuel anywhere, if there’s too much going in and none being used then it will simply over-flow. The little mini car won’t burn the petrol at such a high rate as the elite sports car and the lorry needs lots of fuel because it’s bigger Us humans don’t have a tank that registers full, we just keep pouring the fuel in which, if it’s not used our bodies will store as fat. We need to think of ‘Me size portions’ and get out of the habit of shoving every last crumb in just because it’s on our plate.

As well as portion sizes getting bigger plates are now fashionably huge! But, what came first? Have we added food to fill the plate or the need for a bigger plate was because we eat more? The bigger the plate the more food we pile on them because our brain is tricked into thinking that we’ve not got enough food to fill us up. If you use a smaller plate you’ll be able to fool your brain into thinking there’s a lot of food.

All food has calories, foods with high fat contents, sugary foods and even ‘healthy’ food. If you eat too much of any food you will gain weight so don’t be tempted to stuff your face from dawn to dusk just because it’s a healthier option.

We all need a certain amount of calories for energy and growth, repair and to keep our internal organs ticking over but many of us are munching and drinking our way through far too many. If you’re not losing weight and you are actively trying to or you are gaining weight it could well be your portion sizes.

But, before you start eating your meals off of a saucer, check that you are really eating the balanced diet  you think you are. Are you tucking into a meal of chicken/ fish/quorn with veg and then dunking three or four choccie bikkies or a bag of crisps? Are you eating pre-cooked meals which are actually designed for two people? Are you following a recipe for two people and ending up eating all of it yourself? You may be surprised at what you discover…

Beware of energy density! This is the amount of energy or calories food contains per gram. These foods are normally high in fat and /or sugar such as pastry, biscuits and cake.  Less energy-dense foods have a higher fibre and water content like fruit and veg. If you choose energy –dense food you need to make sure that your portion sizes are smaller but you can increase the amount of the less energy-dense choices that you eat. A good reason to increase your fruit and veg intake!

Many people do seem to struggle to eat the recommended five –a-day, in China they eat 10 a –day with ease. If eating individual fruit seems boring blitz up a cocktail of fruit and drink it as a smoothie, easy and very tasty! You can eat fresh, frozen, tinned or dried fruit, it all counts Don’t forget you can’t include potatoes as they come under the starchy food group.

Don’t rush for the desserts straight after eating. Your brain won’t register that you are full until at least 20 minutes after you’ve eaten so have a glass of water and wait; you probably won’t feel the need to eat more.

So, be honest, are you a mini, an elite sports car or a lorry? How big is your plate? and do you need a harpoon to catch your dinner….?!

Back to Blog