Monday, December 10, 2012

How to control your meal portions

I'm no Martha Stewart. If you've read a little about me, you'll find that only about two years ago did I swap from my Maccas/KFC diet to one that is home-cooked.

To be honest, I find it hard to believe that it took me so long to go from this 

the notorious KFC man burger
to this

Silverbeet (swiss chard) with raisins, toasted sunflower seeds on a bed of quinoa
(Source: My kitchen)

Nutrition aside, some readers have requested that I do a post on portion control. I'm not particularly great at portion control myself. I follow a semi-ayurvedic way of eating, but instead of having my biggest meal at breakfast, I have my biggest meal at lunch, and my smallest meal during an early dinner. 

Reading up about portion control brought back memories of being in school, in that dreaded home economy class. 

If you want the easy way to understand portion control, you can purchase a curry plate from any Indian grocery store 

Curry plates look like this, only they are metal.
Think of the rice compartment as vegies, the meat curry as your protein, and the vegie curry as your starch.

or you can use the image below. 

It's up to you what source of starch/carbs, vegies and protein that you would like to use. You could do the full vegetarian option and choose lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, kale etc option, or you could have your fish, chicken etc, depending on your dietary choices. 

Most vegetarian meals contain a mixture of protein, vegetarian and starch, so it is difficult to portion them out into a portion plate. Some ingredients double as a source of protein and carbs. What do you do then? I'm personally never that rigid about these things. I know superfoods like quinoa are rich in protein and also carbs. If I use quinoa in my cooking, I generally won't have another grain, but I may use another protein source such as chickpeas. I'd still portion out the grains/legumes/tofu to be half the amount of the vegies that I'd use. 

I decided to put the portion plate to the test however, using meat because it was easier to photograph the portions. I made Cajun chicken, with a salad, and some macaroni. 

Cajun chicken, salad and macaroni

I made a lot of salad. There was more in the bowl and it couldn't fit onto the plate. What can I say... I must like my greens. I also feel like there is a little too much macaroni. In my regular meals, if I were to make something like this, I'd skip the macaroni altogether, and just have the chicken fillet and a lot of salad. 

I did enjoy attempting to control my portions though. For the most part, I think my current diet is quite nourishing (I'm flexi-vegetarian, and only have meat mostly on weekends). 

How do you control your portions? Do you ever think about what you put on the plate and if you are getting a balanced diet? 


  1. Nice post!The portions in my dishes usually look like the curry plate but just like you, most of the times I prefer having more veggies and less starch (or no starch at all).

    1. Thanks Olympia, I'm not really a fan of starch, unless it's a noodle dish. I think today, there's a bit of a negative image associated with carbs too, thanks to the popularization of fad diets. It's probably rubbed off on me a little.

    2. Yes fad diets have put carbs in the corner but I guess it just depends on what kind of carbs you eat. In the past I used to eat a lot of carbs, starchy ones, because I was training in a swimming and water polo team for 5-6 hours daily. When I stopped training there and my daily carbs and calories need dropped significantly I started experimenting with food. I find that too many starchy carbs make me feel sluggish now. I do enjoy some wild rice, cracked wheat or noodles ever now and then.

    3. I've never tried wild rice, but I've heard so many good things about it. I enjoy rice and noodles and even good quality pasta in moderation :) I think everything is best for you in moderation. It's like are so undecided if coffee is good/bad for you... I've heard both sides argued equally. As long as you don't have too much, that's how you'll reap the benefits.

    4. If you like rice then I believe you will love wild rice! I used to eat basmati and jasmine rice but when I found out wild rice it became my favorite one! :)

    5. I really have to try it then! Jasmine's my current staple. :)

  2. Great post, im definitely guilty of eating too much pasta and too many potatoes, and not enough meat or veggies - yet I absolutely love veggies!!
    And your cajun chicken looks so yummy, so much nicer than KFC/Maccas!

  3. Thanks! Believe it or not, I still sometimes crave KFC, but when I cave and have some, I immediately regret it because it tastes nothing like what I remembered!