Daily Consumption and Portion Size
Having a healthy, balanced diet means getting the right foods and drinks in the right amounts.Data have shown that today we eat 2 to 4 times more than our ancestors, while recent scientific data has shown that the average adult consumes about 92% of what he puts on his plate. In the supermarkets we are overwhelmed by offers for economiy packages with double quantities, in restaurants the dishes are much bigger than normal while even the utensils we have at home are far bigger than those in the 1970s.
What and how much should we eat:
The recommended number of daily portions for adults in each food group is based on consuming a total of 2,000 calories per day. Our calorie needs may be different, depending on our age, our level of activity and whether we are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight.
Do not worry, we do not need to count everything we eat. You can eat more than one serving of one food group at one meal or less than one at another meal. If we take the recommended daily allowances for an average of two to three days, we will achieve the goal.
What are the right portions:
The World Health Organization guidelines daily recommend:
- 5 to 7 portions of carbohydrates,
- 2 to 3 portions of protein ( meat , fish, legumes)
- 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit,
- 2-3 portions of dairy.
Large variety of vegetables. fresh, frozen, canned or dried *
3 portions of vegetables a day, including dark green, red / orange, purple coloured and more)
Examples of a portion of vegetables:
- 2 cups raw leafy vegetables (lettuce, iceberg, cabbage, spinach etc)
- 1 cup chopped vegetables
- 1 cup 100% vegetable juice
* Frozen, canned and dried products can be as nutritious as fresh. Compare nutritional information on packaging labels and choose products with the lowest amounts of added sugar and sodium. Look for vegetables without salty sauces and fruits packed in their own juices or water instead of heavy syrup. Drain and rinse canned products and beans.
Large variety of fruits. fresh, frozen, canned or dried 1
2 servings of fruit a day
Examples of a portion of fruit:
- A medium whole fruit
- 1 cup of chopped fruit
- 1 cup 100% fruit juice 2
- ½ cup of dried fruit 1
* Frozen, canned and dried products can be as nutritious as fresh. Compare nutritional information on packaging labels and choose products with the lowest amounts of added sugar and sodium. Look for vegetables without salty sauces and fruits packed in their own juices or water instead of heavy syrup. Drain and rinse canned products and beans
** One cup (150 ml) of 100% natural juice can satisfy one of the recommended daily servings of fruits or vegetables. But keep in mind, juice is not as filling as whole fruits and vegetables and may have extra calories and fewer nutrients such as fiber.
Whole grain products rather than refined cereal products
6 portions of carbohydrates a day
Examples of a portion:
- A slice of bread
- A small tortilla
- 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes
- cup of uncooked pasta or rice
- Or a cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal
Low fat and no fat dairy products
3 servings a day
Examples of a dairy portion:
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 slice of cheese
Put limits on your eyes!
Remember satiety starts from the eyes. When you serve food on large plates or eat with large cutlery the chances of overeating are increased. A very interesting study found that people who served ice cream on their own and had large bowls consumed 57% more ice cream than those who used smaller bowls. When we see our food on a large plate "does not fill our eyes", we start eating biased that we will not be full; and of course we are not full, especially when the amount we have put is limited. On the other hand, when we serve the same amount of food on a small plate, then the chances of satiety are much higher. It is also important that our dish is… tidy!
More portions : say " yes " to vegetables
Aim for the lower limit of carbohydrates (5 servings) and protein (2 servings) if you are not active. New research suggests that eating more vegetables benefits you. Therefore, although the international recommendations are in the 5 portions at least it doesn’t hurt to put more vegetables in your diet.
The more you see the more you eat. Even nutritionists serve more food to themselves when they use larger bowls, according to research from Cornell University. Put smaller dishes and fool yourself to eat less.
Smaller quantity but with satiety!
When you are in the process of reducing and controlling your portion in order to control your weight more effectively the whole game will be played… in food choices. It is important to choose foods with ingredients that add volume to the food without… increasing calories. One such ingredient is fibre! So by adding fibre-rich foods to your meal, such as whole grain breakfast cereals, whole grain cereal bars, whole grain pasta, brown rice or whole grain rice, oatmeal and whole grain breads, legumes, nuts, whole grains, nuts you gain in volume, but also in saturation.
The generation of " clean plate"
Didn’t our grandmothers always say to leave your plate clean (i.e finish your food until the last bite) or eat all your food to grow up? It's a good habit, but not if your plate is stuffed. Serve a smaller amount of food or ask the restaurant to do your half pack food or ask for half a portion.
"Snacking »… but right!
Eating snacks during the day is often misunderstood, as many think it leads to increased caloric intake. However, snacks can be part of a balanced diet, and can even reduce hunger during the day. So, by consuming snacks between the main meals, the time of your lunch or dinner can "arrive" without you being particularly hungry and enduring a smaller amount of food in the main meals.
To be complete, snacks are important to contain carbohydrates, proteins and fiber (which contribute to the proper functioning of our gastrointestinal tract), while not exceeding 150-200 calories! For example:
1 low-fat yogurt with cereal
1 low-fat yogurt with fruit
1 whole grain cereal bar with 1 glass of natural juice
1 cup frozen fruit
1 slice of cheese (low fat) and 2 breadsticks
Measure is always a word that worries όμως but it can also be a good occasion to achieve health, wellness and the body you desire! Everything is a matter of ... strategy !!
By Ellie Hadjilucas, Scientific Collaborator of Charalambides Christis, Sports Nutritionist and Public Health Nutritionist