A dietitian has revealed how you can get your serving size under control – and it’s usually much smaller than people think.
Kate Save of Be Fit Food explained people have a general understanding of what they need to eat from the five food groups, but struggle with how much.
‘The guidelines are set around maintaining weight, but over 60 per cent of the population is already overweight,’ she told FEMAIL.
Australian guidelines on healthy eating recommend people eat daily servings from the five food groups: vegetables, fruit, grains, lean protein, and dairy.
Ms Save said the guidelines needed to be thought of as a framework for healthy eating rather than a recommendation on how much to eat.
‘The Australian dietary guidelines talk about eating all five food groups and having a certain number of serves in each of those food groups,’ she said.
Ms Save said although height, weight, age and activity levels affected how much a person should have from each food group, the recommended number of servings from some groups were less relevant than others.
‘For a woman, it’s suggested they have up to six serves of grains and cereals a day, which from my point of view is not necessarily essential,’ she said.
‘Vegetables, legumes and salads are essential but that’s only five serves a day and people should be able to eat those foods a lot more freely.’
She said these foods were more important because it was where the body got the bulk of its vitamins and minerals from.
‘Other health properties come from those plant-based foods, such as phytochemicals (the active compounds found in plants) which offer a lot more than just energy,’ Ms Save explained.
Foods like grains, cereals and pasta where those that helped provide energy, but the expert said just eating for energy wasn’t necessarily all that healthy.
‘Eating for nourishment should be just as important. You should eat as much plant-based food as you can, and should make these the base of every meal.’
The dietitian said a healthy diet included proper servings of protein such as lean meat, fish, tofu, nuts, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.
However, she also added people’s ideas of protein serving sizes were often different than what was recommended.
‘A serve of red meat is about the raw weight of about 100 grams but when it’s cooked it’s about 65 grams, so it’s a very small piece of protein,’ she said.
‘People aren’t used to seeing 65 grams on their plate.’
Ms Save said those who were trying to maintain or lose the weight needed to pay more attention to serving sizes, as this was often where weight drift could occur.
Eating out in restaurants she said could be a real problem, especially when ordering one-meal dishes such as pasta.
Half a cup of cooked pasta is a serving, she said, and it shouldn’t be eaten as an entire meal either.
‘If that bowl of pasta had the better part of three full cups of pasta you will have actually had six serves in one meal,’ she said.
‘That extra pasta just adds up to surplus calories, it’s not offering you anything more nutritionally above the half cup serving size.’
Instead, she said pasta sauces could be bulked out with more vegetables or a lean protein serve, and a pasta dish should always come with a large serving of salad.
She said while a large serving of vegetables should always complement a meal, she recommended being careful with serving sizes for starchy vegetables, like potatoes.
‘Starchy veges belong more to the grain group in terms of energy, so these should be limited to one serving a day, which is half a cup,’ Ms Save said.
‘If you are trying to aim to get at least five serves of vegetables a day, make sure at least four of those five are non-starchy.’