When it comes to eating something i have noticed alot of online is that people want to try to eat perfectly.
They want the food to be “Perfect”, the plating to be “perfect”, the nutrition of the food to be “Perfect” and the portion sizes “Perfect”. And i have noticed some people say they are eating intuitevely but still trying to eat perfectly… which doesn’t really go together, because there is no perfect diet or way to eat.
Of course this isn’t the case for everyone. And also, intuitive eating isn’t for everyone, there are situations and cases where trying to eat intuitively isn’t possible such as if you are struggling or have struggled with an eating disorder and your hunger and fullness feelings/hormones aren’t working as they should. Or that you don’t fully trust your body enough to listen to your body. Or if you need to gain or lose weight, it can be hard to eat intuitevly because you will either have to eat at a calorie surplus or calorie minus, which isn’t intuitive and you may go hungry or may need to eat even when not hungry.
But the point of this post was not to talk about intuitive eating… but to talk about portion sizes.
I often get asked about, what portion size to eat. How much is too much? How much should “i” eat?
And those aren’t questions which I can automatically answer without knowing you or your life situation or even what your relationship with food is and whether you have a certain goal with your eating example weightloss/weightgain/gaining muscle/just be healthy.
Of course, the general recommendation is to follow the portion sizes stated on the package. HOWEVER the truth is that most people don’t follow those portion sizes… not even I do.
It can of course be good information to know what 1 portion size is, because unfortunately peoples perception of a portion size is extremely skewed in both ways… some people think a portion size is tiny while others think a normal portion size is huge.
But even if you have the information about what one recommended portion size is, you then need to take into consideration your own life and situation. Is 1tbsp peanut butter really enough/the right amount for you? For some, it may be… for others they may need 2-3tbsp.
Is 40g oats enough for you and your life? For some people, yes it is enough, for others they can eat double the amount to meet their nutrition requirements.
I don’t think it is good for anyone to get caught up in numbers, where they can’t eat more than a portion size, or panic because it is 5g more than the recommended amount. However it can also be a good way to see the right portion sizes, if you feel that your portion sizes are off… either by consuming large quantities or very little quantities.
But to always ask yourself, how much do YOU need?
If you are active or have the goal to gain weight or build muscle, you will require more food than someone who isn’t active or has the goal to lose weight. So that is important to keep in mind, people will need to eat different amounts. So you should never base YOUR portion sizes or amount of food with anyone else.
1) because we are all different and need different amounts but also
2) you never know how a person actually eats, unless you follow with them 24/7 for a whole week.
It is also important to know that the amount you NEED can vary. Somedays you are super active and need/want more food, other days you are less active or less hungry and want less food.
You also need to take into consideration how often you eat? Do you eat 3 meals a day… well then they will be bigger than someone who maybe eats 6 times a day.
Not to mention, that portion sizes are just standard/recommended ones.. they are NOT individualized or specialized to you. I.e have you had a busy day where you haven’t had time to eat? Well then you are going to need more than just one portion of pasta. So take into consideration your day as well.
For lunches and dinner, it can be good to follow the “plate model”, where you have 40-50% vegetables, 30-40% carbs and 10-30% protein, depending on your nutrition requirements.
Typically i think plating food into lunch boxes, or a medium sized plate/bowl is a good indicator of portion sizes. However… somedays you may need/want more than just the amount in your lunch box and that is ok.
And when it comes to other foods such as cereal, granola, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter… it can be easy to eat large quantities without thinking about it. However i don’t personally recommend tracking or measuring when you eat them, but just taking into consideration your own personal requirements. ALSO to think in long term rather than short term. I.e one day you may eat 100g chocolate or eat 4 cookies or eat half a granola package or half a peanut butter jar, but as long as it is not an everyday thing then it is not a problem.
It is also important to talk about portion sizes and junk food. The fact is… when the majority of people choose to eat example ice cream, chocolate, cake, cookies.. they are doing it because it tastse good and they want it. Counting portion sizes isn’t necessary, HOWEVER going crazy and eating the whole cake or whole package of cookies isn’t necessary (which many who havea restrictbinge mindset can do). It is better to just eat 12 slices of cake rather than eat the whole thing, or eat half the chocolate bar than to eat it all. So for some… portion controlling junkfood may be necessary, especially when weightloss is the goal. But just like mentioned above, one day of eating at a calorie surplus or eating more than usual won’t affect your health or weight, it is about what you do over time and long term.
I am not going to give any individual portion sizes because it is so individual. When i work with clients one on one it is easier to give recommended portion sizes or food ideas based on their preferances and their goals.
And lastly.. don’t base your portion sizes from social media or how you think others eat online. You never know how or what someone eats, so you need to focus on how much YOU need and what works for YOUR life and body. And the same goes for recipes… change recipes according to your own preferance when necessary.
Maybe someone i vanilla yoghurt in a recipe but you use unsweetened, or maybe i add peanut butter to my baked oats but you skip it because you don’t like it… focus on your own eating and what is best for you!