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  • Michelle

Portion sizes

I am going to say something really obvious here, but it is something that many people do not think about and it really does make a difference.

When you are dishing up your meals you are thinking about portion sizes, really that begins way back when you put your first pot on the stove. Portion sizes are affected by a lot of things, the type of food that is on your plate, you are likely to pile a salad up a lot higher than an Osso Bucco, whether it is perceived to be a ‘light‘ meal, people tend to like a great pile of pasta but would be unlikely to pile steak and veg so high, whether it is a ‘treat’ meal, if something is perceived to be a treat, like maybe lasagne or pizza, we will tend to scoff quite a lot more than we need, and whether it is perceived to be ‘good’ for us, offer up a lentil bake or a chick pea hot pot and it is unlikely that people will be filling their bowl to the brim.

So what am I getting at here? Well, we must eat to live, we all know that, but there are a lot of factors that influence what we eat and how much. One of the really obvious ones is the size of our plate. Restaurants and cafes know the power of plate size, an elegant restaurant will use an enormous plate with a small meal piled high in the centre, this is perceived as refined, expensive, quality. A family restaurant will pile the food onto the plate so as to convey value for money, but they will use a smaller plate!

Clever, hey? So this is something we can do at home. We do not want to be embracing the brimming plate at every meal, especially if we are watching our weight or trying to maintain good health. We want nutrient dense foods, but we also need to feed our eyes, so that we feel that we have had enough, so that we don’t reach for the snacks to top up after dinner. One way to do this is to reduce the size of our plate.

Here, let me show you. Here is a dinner I made for myself, smothered potatoes (mmmmm), steamed carrot, beetroot and zucchini and a couple of rashers of streaky bacon.

I could not have fit another thing on that plate if I tried, but that is a smaller plate, if I had put that on a regular, or worse, a large, dinner plate it would look a small meal, and as every chef knows, people eat first with their eyes. If you serve up a meal and the first impression is, “that’s not much”, then that is the impression that will last. We don’t want that in every day eating. Believe me, this meal was enough to fill me full as a goog (egg).

Let’s look at another one.

Ah yes, this is a good one, the hungry man’s omelette. This is a big plate and an even bigger omelette. This was three or four eggs with all the trimmings, a good inch and a half thick too. If you remember, or want to go check out the post, Mr T took one look at it and said, oh, I couldn’t possibly, and then ate the whole lot. You see, so many of us were trained to clear our plate, so if we are trying to restrict our portion size, or even just feel more satisfied with a little less, a very good place to start is with a smaller plate.

See what I mean?


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