Portion Distortion

A nice bowl of muesli is a perfectly healthy start to a day, or so we’d like to think. In fact the average bowl of muesli contains more sugar than a bar of chocolate. How can it be that a supposedly healthy breakfast can have this much sugar? Muesli has a somewhat high sugar content to begin with but this is not where the real mystery lies. The truth is that the recommended bowl of cereal is very different to what the average person actually eats. The key to this sugar mystery is portion size. The recommended portion for muesli is 45g which contains about 15g of sugar, most of which is natural. A bowl of this size would be a fine start to your day. However tests show that the average portion that people eat is 109g which would contain a whole 30g of sugar.

Portions are not only important when it comes to cereal. The average portion of pasta that people eat is 248% more than the recommended. It’s clear from all these that portions have not been given the media attention they deserve. Despite the fact that most people say they have an interest in healthy eating only 12% of people base their portions on the recommended. All of this can have devastating effects for people. If you never look at the portion size for the food you eat, you are more than twice as likely to be overweight compared to someone who does. Eating portions that are too big increases the likelihood of heart disease, cancer and heart attacks. The risk however does not just exist on one end of the scale. Research shows that for people with anorexia good portion control can help them to maintain a healthy weight. The importance of portions is simply unavoidable.

So what can one do to better control their portions?  Education is key. While much of the information that you need is scattered across the internet a great resource is the portion size infographic from, it proves to be very useful to many people as it presents information in an easy to understand visual format. Simple tricks such as using smaller cutlery and plates can make a big difference. Many people ask if it is a good idea to weigh out their portions all the time. For some this can prove to be a useful exercise but to many others it can prove to be a burden and take the joy out of eating. If you are in the second camp you should weigh out all your portions just the once. By doing this you can get a picture in the back of your head of how much you should be eating. The next time you eat you will be guided by this mental picture. While this may sound a little far-fetched research shows that this method is highly effective. Research also shows that you should savour your food, if you take time to enjoy the simple pleasure of eating you are more likely to have better control over how much you have.

For more information on healthy eating visit Always talk to your doctor when seeking medical advice.


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