Our portion sizes have increased over the years. Single packets of crisps are now grab bags, chocolate bars have doubled in size, there are options to supersize meals and often restaurant portions are very large. it is easy to fill your plate with pasta or chips, choose a big breakfast bowl for cereal or add the extra ball of ice cream to your dessert. We seem to have lost sight of what a sensible portion size is.

But why is it important to keep our portion sizes in check? Well, the more we eat, the more calories we consume and if we consume more calories than we need we store them as body fat!

With obesity continuing to be on the rise, one of the easiest things that could be done to decrease calories in your diet is looking at the portion sizes you are eating. Last year Cochrane published a review looking at different sized portions or packages of foods in relation to how much we eat. The review concluded that if you reduced the size and package of the food then you can reduce the amount of food that you eat. This seems obvious, but we have never had all the evidence together to show this before!

Below is a handy infographic that Cochrane put together to explain this in more detail.


Top tips for keeping your portion sizes in check…

  • Choose smaller plates and bowls to eat out of.
  • Check the packet to see what the recommended portion size is for that food, for example pasta, rice, crisps.
  • When cutting down the carb portion (bread, pasta, rice, potato) to the recommended size, fill the gap with lots of veggies or salad to keep you feeling full.
  • Serve smaller portions to start with and then if you are still hungry have seconds. You might find you are satisfied after your first serving.
  • If you can’t stop eating once you have opened a packet, then choose a smaller packet – don’t go for the family or grab bags.

The British Dietetic Association have recently published a useful fact sheet on portion sizes to show you what sensible portion sizes should be.

So next time you pick up a packet or serve out your dinner, have a think about your portion size!

Reference: Hollands GJ, Shemilt I, Marteau TM, Jebb SA, Lewis HB, Wei Y, Higgins JPT, Ogilvie D. 2015. Portion, package or tableware size for changing selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Photo credit: www.pexels.com