People will generally eat the amount of food that they are served — this means the more we are served, or the larger the portion we buy (think an entire block of chocolate), the more we will eat. This is why keeping our portions controlled is a key aspect of weight control.
So if you feel that you are eating well, yet fail to ever drop any kilos, here are the portions we should be aiming for when it comes to our most popular foods.
MEAT, CHICKEN, FISH
We generally eat 2-3x the amount of protein we actually need, especially with our evening meal. The average female will need just 100-150g of cooked protein such as chicken, meat or fish which is roughly the size of a small remote control. For men, 175-200g or the size of a larger remote or smart phone is a reasonable serve.
A popular late-night snack, cheese, while nutritious, is also relatively high in fat and calories and as such just a 20-30g serve, 1-2 slices or the size of a matchbox is a standard serve. White cheeses such as cottage, feta and goat's cheese are slightly lower in fat and as such you could increase this portion slightly to 30-40g per day or a larger matchbox.
Your favourite may be tomato sauce, mayo or olive oil but adding numerous sauces to your meals also adds calories each time we eat. Ideally sticking to a small tablespoon or 50c piece serving of sauce just 1-2 times each day will keep your portions under control.
You are not alone — at some point we have all demolished an entire block of chocolate, helped slightly by the fact that manufacturers keep reducing the size of the block! When it comes to size, think 1 Freddo Frog or 1-2 Lindt balls, you will be getting roughly 20g of chocolate or about 100 calories per serve.
Again, when you bring out the tub to enjoy a few spoonfuls as you watch TV, chances are you will eat much more than you planned. Just two small scoops or a measuring cup full of ice cream is a decent serve — the size of a tennis ball will come in at roughly 200 calories per serve.
The larger your breakfast bowl, the more cereal you will pour and eat. A standard serve of breakfast cereal excluding oats is three-quarters of a cup, a small handful or the volume in a punnet of blueberries.
Forget loading your plate up with rice and pasta and adding in a small side of vegetables — the ratios need to be reversed. Unless you are training heavily or an athlete, we need less than a cup of cooked carbohydrate at a meal or the equivalent of a small Chinese bowl or your computer mouse to accompany any meal.
You most likely know that the goblet sized glasses you serve your wine in at home is a little more than a standard drink. A champagne flute will offer you close to the 120ml of wine per serve, or the amount of fluid in a small teacup.
Avocado is full of good fat but, as is the case with all foods, you can eat too much. Contrary to popular belief, a serve of an avocado is not the entire avocado, rather one-third to one-half of a small avo, which is two to three tablespoons or the equivalent of two golf balls.
Nuts are a tricky one because it can be so tempting to keep munching when we have an open bag in front of us. One serve should be kept to just 30g which is 15-20 nuts, or the amount that can fit into a small plastic container, small muffin baking tray or the amount that could fit on top of your credit card.
Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist. Follow her on Twitter @SusieBDiet