There are many reasons why getting portions right can be challenging and the first is most of us don’t know what a portion should be. Then once you do know what a portion is, estimating them correctly without measuring cups or kitchen scales is challenging. Numerous studies show estimating portion sizes is difficult for all people at all education levels and even harder when it comes to mixed food like a finished pasta or rice dish.
Meat / Fish / Poultry
Meat, fish, poultry and meat free alternatives like tofu, beans and eggs should be eaten 2-3 times a day. This food group is most known for its high levels of protein, but it also provides other essential nutrients such as iodine, iron, zinc, vitamins, especially B12, and essential fatty acids.
Vegetables and Fruit
We need 5-6 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit every day and an easy way to do this is to have fruit as part of your breakfast and a snack and include veggies at both lunch and dinner. Quite often where we get unstuck with this group is not aiming for variety and only sticking to 2-3 different types of veggies. So, aim for as much variety as you can.
Nuts fall into the meat and alternatives food group and can make up your 2-3 portions needed a day. To ensure you have variety you should try to stick to replacing no more than one of your meat serves with nuts each day. It’s also handy to pre-portion your nuts before you start eating them and don’t eat them with distractions as nuts are delicious and very easy to overeat, particularly when served from a big bag.
Rice / Pasta
People might be surprised to know they should be aiming for 6 portions of grain foods like rice and pasta a day as there is a trend to avoid carbohydrates. However, carbohydrate foods, particularly wholegrain carbs are great sources of important nutrients such as fibre, B Vitamins, iron and zinc and they provide us with energy.
Cheese falls into the dairy food group and we should be aiming for 2-4 portions of dairy a day. This group is well known for calcium and protein and it also provides other nutrients like magnesium, potassium and vitamin D. As with all food groups, its good to include a variety so while you’ve got 2 portions a day you should mix them up between milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Its important to note that, different foods or food groups don’t need to be avoided when losing weight, it’s all about choosing foods in the right portions as part of an overall balanced diet. For example, if your diet is low in energy, sugar and fats, a small chocolate cake can be included. Jenny Craig makes portion control easy by helping people learn what a portion is and how to include all foods without having to count calories.