Learning about portion sizes at home

Published 15/10/2013 | 05:40

Imagine a dinner plate divided into four sections, one section for meat or fish, one section for carbohydrates and two sections for salads and vegetables.
Imagine a dinner plate divided into four sections, one section for meat or fish, one section for carbohydrates and two sections for salads and vegetables.

This week we will take a look at portion sizes for older children and some simple tools that can be used in the home and when dining out to gauge the correct portion sizes for school-aged children.

Our perception of portion size has become so distorted that research shows that it is hard for us to recognise what a normal portion looks like.

Take for example a bagel; 20 years ago this was half the size and half the calories, around 140kcal – today a bagel is double the size and around 350kcal.

This is true of many everyday foods.

Here are a few simple tools to help the family learn about portion sizes.

Imagine a dinner plate divided into four sections.

One section for protein serving such as meat or fish, one section for carbohydrates such as potatoes or rice and two sections for salad and vegetables.

This is how most dinner plates should look.

If children are older and very active then the serving of carbohydrates on the plate can increase.

When dining out, use your hand to judge portion sizes.

The palm of the hand (without fingers and thumb) is about the size of a serving of meat.

Use the size of a small fist to gauge the size of carbohydrates for example a fist of cereal is about one serving.

Children from ages five to 13 need up to five servings of starchy carbohydrates per day, if they are more active they may need up to seven servings.

Using smaller plates at home will help control portion sizes.

Plates and cups as well as food portions have also increased in size.

'Share' bags of crisps or sweets or large tubs of ice cream should be divided into smaller servings before giving to children.

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