According to serving sizes I'm a family of four.
At least as far as the manufacturer is concerned. Portion control is one of those tricky areas that can make or break a healthy diet because even too much of the right stuff will cause weight gain over time. I'm never one to pass up dessert (or a snack...or second lunch...) because food is there to nourish AND enjoy; it all comes down to how much you're eating relative to your body's needs.
To help you decipher if you might be eating too much, or too little, here's a handy guide to portion sizes.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines are government-endorsed guidelines that aim to promote health and reduce the incidence of diet-related diseases in the wider community. They're what the government uses to make public health policies and what universities teach to nutrition and dietetics students.
The exact amount of serves you need each day is dependent on your body size, shape, sex, activity level and a host of other factors which make it hard to give out generalised guidelines for exactly how much to eat. There are however some minimum recommended amounts for each food group per day:
Men should aim to eat 6 serves of vegetables each day and women should aim for 5. Breastfeeding women are advised to aim for 7.5 serves of vegetables each day.
Men and women, including those who are pregnant and breastfeeding, are recommended to eat at least 2 serves of fruit each day.
Grains & Cereals
Men and women should both aim to eat at least 6 serves of grains and cereals each day. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat 8.5 serves and breastfeeding women are advised to consume 9 serves each day.
Choose wholegrain and wholemeal versions, which are valuable sources of dietary fibre.
Men should aim to eat at least 3 serves of protein each day and women, including breastfeeding women, should aim for 2.5. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat a minimum 3.5 serves each day.
Choose lean cuts to reduce your intake of saturated fat.
Dairy & Alternatives
Men and women, including those who are pregnant and breastfeeding should eat at least 2.5 serves of dairy each day (if you are not lactose intolerant or avoiding dairy for other reasons). Nowadays there are a lot of lactose-free and plant-based options that are all suitable for meeting your daily needs.
If you do not eat dairy there are plenty of non-dairy alternatives that can help you meet your calcium needs:
Fats & Oils
Men are recommended to consume 4 serves of fats and oils each day and women are recommended to eat 2 serves per day.
Discretionary choices are foods that do not fall within the Five Food Groups, and are usually where the wheels fall off for those of us that feel we eat very healthily but can't seem to lose weight. The serving sizes you give yourself may not match what is considered "one serve", and excess consumption of discretionary foods is a quick way to blow your daily calorie budget.
These foods are absolutely fine to eat on occasion, even daily, so long as the portion you choose is in line with your personal nutritional needs.
Men are recommended to eat between 0 and 3 serves of food that fall under the category of 'discretionary choices' (or as Sesame Street calls them: sometimes foods. That Snuffy, so wise..) and women are recommended to eat between 0 and 2.5 serves each day.
If you are trying to lose weight without success, or you are just a science nerd like me and genuinely interested, try comparing the amount of food you would normally eat with the serving sizes listed. You might be in for a shock!
Just remember: there is no food SO bad that you can't ever eat it again; you can eat anything you like as long as it's the right portion size for you.
If you are struggling to lose weight and would like personalised guidance and support, you can work with me to help you reach your goals and improve your health. Head to the Consultations tab to read more about what I can do for you, or click on the Fit Nutrition Products tab to jump right in and book!
Fit Kitchen Blog
Healthy recipes for people that love food.
Join the JLFN community to receive your free healthy chocolate recipes e-book
- as well as a regular newsletter with exclusive recipes, tips and special offers - making it easier to reach your health and fitness goals!