What portion sizes should we be eating?
It sounds like a pretty straightforward question, but the answer is much less straightforward. You see, our dietary needs vary depending on a range of different factors, including our age, gender and level of physical activity – but in general, most of us need to eat less than we think. This is particularly true if our lifestyle and work don’t require heavy amounts of activity.
At Jenny Craig, our menus are planned by Accredited Practising Dietitians, and are based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. We keep a close eye on the portion sizes of our tasty, nutritious and delicious menu items, and our menus are designed with plenty of variety so you’ll never feel like you’re on a ‘diet’ or are being deprived of your favourite foods. There is also a large focus on education, and without even trying, after a few weeks, you’ll be able to recognise healthy portions in any meal.
It’s helpful to understand a bit of the positive philosophy that goes into thinking about portions: it will help those who are not taking advantage of the Jenny Craig menus, as well as those of you starting to plan your own meals. We generally think about portions in terms of how much we eat a day from the five food groups: vegetables; fruit; lean meats and alternatives; milk, yoghurt, cheese; and grain foods. The Australian Dietary Guidelines gives comprehensive advice on the minimum number of serves from each food group that we should be eating in order to get the right amount of nutrients.
But how do you put these portion guidelines into practice? Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Get to know how much your food weighs and measures. Ask your consultant about our new Grocery Guide which lists all of the Jenny Craig food groups and their portion sizes.
Use smaller plates and dishes so that your meals appear bigger, and you’ll eat less. If you’ve got a big full plate of food, chances are you’ll eat all of it. Over the years, plate sizes have crept up in size too, so beware when you eat meals served on large plates.
Strategise when going out for nice meals: order an entree instead of a main and a serve of non-starchy veggies to keep you fuller for longer. And if you’re tempted by dessert, perhaps you could order some fresh fruit. Or why not share a dessert with your dining partner?
Don’t skip meals, as you’ll end up eating more later on in the day. Instead, aim to space your meals out, and enjoy smaller meals more frequently. This is really our philosophy at Jenny.
Eat mindfully. Instead of eating while doing something else and losing track of how much you’re eating, enjoy your food and savour its taste without any distractions. Focus on the texture, the flavour, chew your food well and savour every mouthful. Put your knife and fork down between each bite, and aim to eat your meal over the course of 20 minutes. This is how long it takes for the body to feel satisfied.
With these tricks under your belt, you’ll be on your way to healthy portion control, and remember, you can always ask your consultant for more advice!