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How to cut your portions without even noticing

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Diet Fitness


October 23, 2013

  • 36 reading now
  • (35)
  • Comments 49


Photo: Getty

The rather ironic thing about modern life is that as technology advances and as we busier and busier in our day to day life, we actually need less food.

How can that be? A number of factors make this rather harsh reality the case. First and foremost the less we move and the more time we spending front of a computer, the fewer kilojoules we burn.

Secondly, the greater the number of modern appliances we use, or the help we employ to do our gardening, cleaning and ironing for example, the fewer kilojoules we burn.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, the foods we are eating have more kilojoules than ever before. So, here are the easiest ways to slash some serious kJ out of your day, without you even noticing.


Do you know how much cereal you actually eat? If you pour it directly from the box into the bowl, chances are, you are consuming little more than you realise? Or if you prefer toast, are you buying the small slices of bread or picking up a large Turkish or Sourdough slices and do you ask for no butter? And finally but perhaps most importantly, which coffee do you buy? A large and add a couple of sugars? Simply swapping to a small and adding just one sugar will save you another 100kJ or so, each and every day.

Portion watch

Measure your breakfast cereal to ¾ -1 cup: 60kJ saved

Swap to small slices of bread: 200kJ saved

Ditch the butter on your toast: 120kJ saved

Swap to a small coffee and drop a sugar: 160kJ saved

Morning Tea

It is normal to feel peckish a couple of hours after breakfast but before you head back to the cafe or tea room to pick up another coffee, considering swapping to a piccolo for fewer than half the kJ, with all the caffeine. And rather than opening up a large bag of dried fruit and nuts, weigh out the suggested 30g portion and again halve your sugar and kJ intake.

Portion watch

Swap to a piccolo coffee: 300kJ saved

30g serve dried fruit instead of 50g: 400kJ saved


Now there is nothing wrong with a meat and salad sandwich or a plain stir fry for lunch but the size of your bread and rice serves can significantly affect your kJ intake, along with your choice of sauces and dressings. Simply focusing on vegetables and reducing the size of your meat and added fat portions of cheese and dressings can significantly reduce your kJ intake without reducing the size of your meal.

Portion watch

Swap to small slices of bread or a wrap or ½ serve rice: 400kJ saved     

Ask for a thin spread of avocado or smaller amount of cheese: 200kJ saved


Do you know how much meat, chicken or fish you really eat? Chances are it is at least 50g more than you think you do. The same can be said for your serves of rice, pasta or potato, with serves often two times the amount we really need. Once you drop these portions back to the size they should be, not only will you have room on your plate for more vegetables, but you will also save up to 800kJ in a single meal.

Portion watch

Weigh your portions of protein and aim for 100-150g: 400kJ saved

1 cup cooked rice, pasta or potato: 400kJ saved


Who does not like a sweet treat every now and again? The issue is that once we start serving the yoghurt or ice cream, an extra scoop or spoon always seems to make it to the bowl. Simply swapping to a single ice cream on a stick can again save you 400kJ while you are still enjoying a sweet treat after dinner.

Portion watch

Swap to an individual serve of yoghurt or ice cream: 400kJ saved     

Total daily kJ saved = 3040kJ

49 comments so far

  • Yet another article labouring under the nonsense illusion that it’s all about calories. Sugar in your coffee, bread and ice cream will make you fat, avocado and nuts will not. Outdated thinking.

    Jim Ranger
    Date and time
    October 24, 2013, 6:27AM

    • +1 – agreed- did a dietician that retired in the 1990’s give these tips?

      Golden Nugget
      Gold Coast
      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 7:46AM

    • ok, but portion size must also play a factor, no? I mean, if I eat 6 avocados a day (along with all the other healthy foods I eat) I’m going to put on weight surely?


      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:00AM

    • Actually, I recently did an experiment with my own body. Just by lowering my caloric intake to 1400 calories a day (including bowls of icecream, candy and juice/smoothies/milkshakes), I lost weight. If you’re sedentary and do little than sit at a computer all day, then just by lowering your calorie intake you can lose weight by basal calorie burn- the ones you burn by breathing or thinking. You just need to make sure that you are eating less than the minimal calories your body needs and you will lose weight. In terms of this, sugar has nothing to do with it. And your brain feeds on glucose- it needs sugars to survive.

      I lost 5 kilos in two weeks and I wasn’t missing out. One day I had cake for breakfast! Portion sizes can mean all the difference here.


      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:04AM

    • We are fatter than we were in the. 90’s maybe we should listen

      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:15AM

    • @AmyG: stop uspetting the logic of the zealots. :)

      I grew up on a diet heavy in sugar in the fifties and sixties: white bread, sugar on cornflakes, sugar in milo, cordial with food, cake tins always full, dessert or pudding EVERY night. Negligible numbers of people were overweight.

      Reason? Serving sizes and not sitting still for long. Houses were smaller and families were bigger: don’t expect to be inside after school unless there’s driving rain. Walk or bike ride to school. Mum had a very modern washing machine, which nevertheless obliged her to lift objects out of the water and feed them through the wringer, repeating the process for the rinse. Dad rode his bike to work.

      Sugar and carbs rotted out teeth and wasn’t great nutrition (there’s a reason why the next generation were taller), but they DIDN’T cause obesity.

      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:16AM

    • “Sugar in your coffee, bread and ice cream will make you fat,”

      It didn’t in the fifties and sixties.

      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:26AM

    • This article does not EVER claim its “all about calories”. The author makes no claim that you should read this article and never read or follow any other to do with healthy eating or exercise. Calories are just one part of the story only, but they are a part. And regardless of how healthily people eat, if they eat enough higher volumes, that’s not good.

      I eat a good healthy diet with occasional treats, am 5’11” tall and weigh 75kg. Until two years ago, the only difference between then and now is I ate the same healthy diet, only I ate the portion sizes equal to the size most people seem to eat these days. And the Christmas before last, my weight was 103kg.

      No matter how good the food is you eat, a lot more than the required (not desired) amount is simply not good for you. End of story. That has been fact for a few thousand years, and will continue to be so long after all of us reading this are long gone.


      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:28AM

    • @Sean- ummmm, yeah. That’s because people are eating more sugar and processed foods. Listening to advice like this article, people would last for a bout 3 days max and they’d be starving, they revert back to their old habits. Eat well, and trust me, you can eat almost as much as you want, your body deals with it very differently.

      Golden Nugget
      Gold Coast
      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:34AM

    • Hmmm not really. It’s not out dated thinking at all. Totally makes sense.

      The Other Guy1

      Date and time
      October 24, 2013, 8:37AM

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