A recent Cochrane systematic review found very good evidence that portion size directly influences how much we eat. The researchers concluded, “people consistently ate more food or drank more non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger-sized portions, packages or items of tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions.”
In Australia, as in other parts of the world, around 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese, which is directly contributing to the rise in chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Helping people achieve and maintain a healthy weight is part of the solution and managing portions a key strategy of any dietary changes. The Cochrane researchers concluded, “acting to reduce the size, availability and appeal of larger-sized portions, packages and tableware has potential to reduce the quantities of food that people select and consume by meaningful amounts.”
Part of the portion problem is that we all seem to be well trained to eat what’s put in front of us, and clean up the leftovers (including other peoples). This situation is exacerbated by the fact that portion sizes have steadily been increasing over the past decades and restaurants and cafés rarely serve you a balanced meal (you typically have to order veggies or salad separately).
Clear images that remind us what healthy, balanced meals look like is a great way to help us keep an eye on portion sizes. This is particularly important for anyone living with, or at risk of, diabetes as it can help achieve better weight maintenance, improved blood glucose management and reduce their risk of diabetes-related complications.
Here’s an example of what a healthy, balanced plate looks like:
- ½ plate non-starchy veggies or salad (e.g. carrots, broccoli, tomato, capsicum or leafy green veggies)
- ¼ plate good-quality carbohydrates (e.g. wholegrain pasta, brown rice, quinoa)
- ¼ plate lean protein (e.g. lean meat, skinless chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes or tofu)