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Portion sizes

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

I am not one for portion shaming and the advice I give in this blog is intended to give you a tools for helping you meet your bodies nutritional requirements. As I’ve got older I have noticed the plates I own seem to have gotten bigger and I have got in the habit of piling food onto the plate without much consideration as to how much I need to eat. Sometimes a food type or a lack of balance in my diet will make feel fatigued or more anxious. Tracking food can be helpful to change habits or to reach a specific goal however it tends not to be sustainable to record everything you eat. Also I enjoy food, it brings me joy, what can be useful for me is to check in with my portion sizes to check I am not eating out of habit. I don't stick fully to the below guide but I want to share it with you as a tool that you can use.

Many nutritionists encourage intuitive eating, listening to what you body is asking for and meeting this need. I am an advocate of this approach however it does not work for everyone. If you have experienced trauma, if you have low interoception (awareness of internal body signals) or if you have an imbalance in your hunger hormones Grehlin or Leptin then you may find there are advantages to planning and putting effort into portion sizes. To calculate how many calories your body needs at rest you can work out your basil metabolic rate. As you move and exercise your body uses more calories.

You may may be familiar with the “Eat Well Plate”

Whist not perfect and not tailored to certain goals or diets it gives an indication of what a balanced diet may look like. However it’s a difficult thing to imagine or want to think of during meal prep.

Balanced diet
The Eat Well Plate

Hand based portion sizes are a tool that can help you visualise a potion with out scales of fancy apps.

A palm size portion of protein
A portion of protein is the size and depth of your fist. You should aim for 3 portions a day.

A cupped hand portion of bulgar wheat
A portion of starchy carbs are the size of a cupped hand. Again 3 potions is adequate.

A fist portion size of veg or salad
For veg and salad we should aim for a portion the size of a fist and aim for 5-6 portions Of this size it helps to mix up the type and colour of fruit and veg we have (eat the rainbow)

And then for fats. We need fats in our diet. They are important for cell function.

With butters and oils we should make a portion the size of the tip of our ring finger.

And for nutrient rich fats such as dairy, nuts and nut butters aim for a portion the size of your thumb.

Fats thumb size potion
And for nutrient rich fats such as dairy, nuts and nut butters aim for a portion the size of your thumb.

And finally this is what it looks like on a plate. (And yes I did forget to add the cheese to the meal so had no choice but to eat it whole!

A balanced meal
Bulgar wheat with fried veg and pulled Oomph (vegan protein)

Read more blogs by Sarah here.

Sarah is an Occupational Therapist and personal trainer who is passionate about helping people flourish @MoodLifterPT She is always happy to be contacted if you want to find out more.

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