Our body needs only so much food as is required to replace the energy that was utilized. If we put in less, then we create a deficit which the body attempts to balance by burning any existing fat (and we lose weight). If we eat more, then the excess is stored as fat (and we put on weight).
If we continue to eat in excess of requirement, we continue to get bloated until something goes bust – that’s right, our body too is like a balloon. Put too much in and eventually something will give away – it could be the heart or the liver.
Portion size is all about guarding against deficits or excesses in our food consumption.
Even if our aim is to eat only so much as to replace energy that was utilized, we cannot eat beyond a certain quantity of one particular type of food – for example, we all love ice creams and pastries. However, the food we eat cannot consist of only ice cream and pastries. It must contain food from all the food groups’ i.e. dairy products, fats, fruits, vegetables and meats. Consequently, even if ice creams and pastries were part of the food on our plate, we would have to limit the quantity i.e. the portion size.
On an average, we need about 2,000 calories worth of food per day. This food must come from all the food groups I mentioned in the previous paragraph in the following proportion: 30% Vegetables, 30% pulses and whole grains, 25% fruit, 10% meat, 5% dairy products.
Simply put, a portion of vegetables therefore, is that much quantity that helps satisfy the above ratio i.e. 600 calories worth of energy per day must come from vegetable. This would roughly be equal to two baseball sized servings of veggies.
Left to ourselves,
unless we plan our daily menu it would be difficult to include food from all the food groups
and that too in the precise portions that are required for a healthy balanced diet.
Planning our meals allows us to shop in advance for the ingredients and also results in meals that are more colorful, nutritious and varied. This last part is especially important because when our meals become monotonous, we lose interest in it and might not eat as much as we should. Similarly, planning helps us guard against eating too much of the same food. After all, our body reacts both to excess, as well as deficit of a particular food group.
Portion size and meal planning are therefore not only integral to a balanced diet and good health –