Healthy eating is all around us. While this can feel heightened during January as everyone embarks on a New Year diet, there’s a general sense that people are paying more attention to what they eat. Instead of jumping on the latest diet bandwagon though, or cutting out foods completely, what if there was another solution? Portion control could be the answer to maintaining a healthy weight for life.
Getting ‘portion wise’
The British Nutrition Foundation has recently published new guidance that focuses on portion control as a way of enjoying a healthier and more balanced diet. Getting your portions right will not only stop you overeating, but ensures that you get enough of the foods you need to keep your body strong and healthy.
The amount of food we need in a day varies from person to person. Height, weight and activity level can all be factors that determine how much we should be eating, There are formulas for calorie intake that can help you get a clearer idea. Knowing this can help you consider your diet more carefully, and means you can fit your food around your preferred type of diet, and become healthier as a result.
The BNF is recommending that you:
- Eat 5+ portions of fruit and vegetables a day
- Eat 3-4 portions of starchy carbohydrates a day
- Eat 2-3 portions of fish, nuts, pulses, beans, eggs, meat and other protein sources a day
- Eat 2-3 portions of dairy and alternatives a day
By basing your meals around these portion sizes, you can create a healthier plate that will allow you to eat more sensibly and stop you eating too much of the things that could be causing weight gain.
Tips for making portion control work
There are different things you can do to make portion control work for you. Some tips to help you improve portion control include:
- Using your hands to measure out your foods. The NHF’s portion size list is a good resource to print out and keep on the fridge so you know exactly what you should be eating.
- Invest in some measuring spoons and jugs to help you get a more accurate picture of your portion sizes.
- Use kitchen scales to weigh out your food.
- Remember that children will need smaller amounts of food, so use their smaller hands as a guide to how much they should be eating.
- Use smaller plates so that you’re not tempted to fill up a larger plate with food.
- Limit your carb source to one to stop you overeating carbs. If you have rice on your plate, for example, do you need chips as well?
- If you often find yourself with leftovers, try cooking less the next time. You could always freeze portions or keep them for lunch the next day.
- If you still feel hungry after finishing your meal, wait 20 minutes before going for the leftovers – your stomach might settle and that initial hunger can soon go away.
Why is it important?
A healthy diet is important for self-care, and can help ensure that you maintain a good weight to lower your risk of getting diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Getting into the habit of eating well can benefit your health now and in the future. With better portion control, you’ll have a better outlook on your nutrition and can make some wise eating choices.
If you need help and advice on healthy eating, you can get a lot of great ideas on the NHS Choices Eat Well pages. You can also contact your GP if you’re struggling with your weight and need to make some important lifestyle changes. Give portion control a chance today, it could make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing.