The Portion Distortion Epidemic!

How much food do you intake on a daily basis? Do you find yourself eating more food at different times of the day? And how much food should we be eating pre and post-workout?

It’s vital that we supply our bodies with the right amount of food on a day-to-day basis and in particular before and after a workout. Food is the fuel that our bodies need to survive, supplying us with everything we need in order to function and perform. To add to this, nutrition is such a vital part of staying healthy and feeling amazing. No matter how many workouts you complete, if what goes in your mouth doesn’t compliment your exercise regime then 9 times out of 10 it is impossible to see the results you are working so hard for.

So let’s answer that so too often asked questions – How much should I actually be eating?

Too often we all become confused with portion sizes and the number of foods from various food groups that we should be eating. Did you know? Portion sizes began to grow in the 1970s and have been on the rise ever since, and it’s this continuous growth that is directly related to our increasing body weights. We are literally overeating ourselves and becoming a supersized nation.

Over the past 20 years, hamburgers have expanded by 23%, soft drinks have increased in size by a massive 52%, bags of crisps, pretzels, and crackers have all increased by 60% and ready-made meals which have enlarged in size by a massive 50%. Even more shockingly, according to the British Heart Foundation our portion sizes have even blown up in more recent times from 1993 to the present shepherd’s pie has nearly doubled in size by an astounding 98%, peanut portions are up by 80%, individual chicken pies have increased by 40%, meat lasagna has grown up 39% and the list goes on and on and on…

Images courtesy of the British Heart Foundation

Image courtesy of Precision Nutrition

Let’s break it down…

Let’s say you, like many of us, enjoy a biscuit with your morning tea or coffee, you have been carrying out this morning ritual since 1993 (or earlier) and have continued to enjoy your morning ritual ever since. Due to the fact that sweetmeal biscuits have increased in size by 17% since 1993, you have literally added 3,330 calories to your diet each year. That’s a shockingly large amount considering you were just continuing your daily ritual unaware of the sweetmeal biscuit portion distortion.

The simple fact is – when we are presented with more food, we eat more food. Let’s put an end to this!

The Simple Handy Guide To Portion Control

We aren’t really ones for using mathematical equations or technical formulas ever time we eat a snack or enjoy a meal. We would rather come up with a simple and easy method that anyone and everyone can take on board that doesn’t require measuring cups, scales, a calculator or a tricky equation to work out.

A simple and ‘handy’ guide (see what we did there!) is all we are going to use. You can monitor and control your portions by using your fist, palm, cupped hand, and thumb – it’s as easy as that!

Handy portion guide:

Palm = protein
Fist = vegetables
Cupped hand = carbohydrates (grain, starches or fruits)
Thumb = fat (oils, butter, nut butter, seeds and nuts, etc)

Basic meal guide for your ‘anytime’ meals to be eaten every day.
Note: For your ‘anytime’ meals you can choose to enjoy two portions of vegetables or one portion of vegetables and one portion of fruit (as your carbohydrate intake).

Female Portions – follow this guide for ‘anytime’ meals.

Male Portions – follow this guide for ‘anytime’ meals.

Female Portions – follow this guide for ‘post-training’ meals. On training days (when you are working out), you can add a portion of starchier carbohydrates into your post-workout meals, such as grains, quinoa or sweet potatoes etc.

Male Portions – follow this guide for ‘post-training’ meals. On training days (when you are working out), you can add a portion of starchier carbohydrates into your post-workout meals, such as grains, quinoa or sweet potatoes etc.

Plate images courtesy of Precision Nutrition


Sticking to this simple portion guide will help you control the amount of food you consume and allow you to monitor your portions.

If you are used to eating massive meals you may find yourself feeling a little lost without a mountain-sized plate of food in front of you during mealtime. Don’t panic – eat slowly, enjoy every bite and most importantly – make sure you’re eating meals without multitasking – this means eating without watching television, without working and without any distractions as this will result in mindless overeating. According to the Harvard Health Publication eating mindfully, paying attention to your food will ensure we don’t overeat and will even result in us eating less later on. So try to eat mindfully, switch off the TV, step away from the computer and enjoy your food. And lastly, remember it’s not about feeling stuffed to the brim and full – it’s about feeling satisfied!