Australia is following in the footsteps of the US when it comes to oversized portions, according to new research.
A study by the The George Institute for Global Health found portion sizes in Australia have been getting bigger since the mid-‘90s, especially with junk food.
Pizza and cake servings have grown the most significantly, increasing by 66 percent in terms of the amount of kilojoules consumed in a sitting. Sausages, cereal bars, processed meat, ice cream and wine were some of the other items that increased in size the most.
Susie Burrell, nutritionist and founder of ShapeMe.com.au, says getting portion sizes right is crucial for weight loss – or even just not putting on weight to begin with.
“A slightly larger slice of bread, an extra teaspoon or two of oil on the salad or simply eating from a larger plate are just a few of the ways our portions tend to gradually increase over time, as does our weight.”
The good news is you can still enjoy your favourite junk foods if you don’t overdo it.
“A ‘one-off’ dessert or chocolate bar will not result in weight gain, but repeatedly eating more calories on a daily basis from larger portion sizes than you need will.”
Portion control 101
Burrell works with her clients to simplify portion sizes and know straight away, when cooking at home or eating out, how much of the food in front of them they should eat.
“Aim to fit each meal into one to two fist sizes, and keep protein such as meat the size of your palm,” Burrell says.
If looking down at your plate and seeing two fists of food makes you wonder “Where’s the rest?!”, the key is to fill up your plate with vegetables, which are low calorie.
“Always load your plate half full of vegetables or salad – an ideal plate is a quarter carbs, a quarter protein and half salad or vegetables.”
As a general rule, Burrell says it’s best not to double up on carbs or protein.
“For example, don’t eat sweet potato and potato, or eggs and smoked salmon in the same meal.”
When you’re still hungry
There’s nothing worse than finishing your plate and feeling so hungry you’re instantly hanging out for the next meal.
To avoid this scenario, until you adjust to smaller portion sizes, plan your meals so you’re never going more than two to three hours between a meal or snack.
For example, breakfast at 7am, morning snack at 10am, lunch at 1pm, snack at 4pm, dinner at 7pm, and something very small like a square of dark chocolate before bed.
Getting your snacks right will help you to feel properly satisfied between meals, as will drinking enough water – the body can confuse thirst for hunger.
Savouring every bite of your food will also help you to feel satisfied with less – when we wolf it down while staring at a computer, TV or phone screen, we eat more.
There’s science to back this up: several studies, including one presented at the European Congress on Obesity, found people who ate mindfully (slowly, not distracted and taking pleasure in eating) felt satisfied faster, ate less and lost weight.
A study by the US Department of Agriculture indicates that pairing a sugar-sweetened drink (like Coke) with a high-protein meal (like a burger) starts processes in your body that disrupt energy balance, trigger cravings and pack on fat.One more reason soft drink is bad for you