Health tip of the week

Cut por­tion sizes and use smaller plates

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Health / Plant Health -

As the old adage goes, “you are what you eat” – so it’s no sur­prise that those who live on a diet of fast food or meals which are highly pro­cessed have a greater propen­sity to­wards obe­sity and ill health.

But while many peo­ple dread the thought of cook­ing a meal from scratch when they come home from work and they have both them­selves and a hun­gry fam­ily to feed, plan­ning ahead can make life a lot eas­ier.

Dr Cliodhna Fo­ley-Nolan is the di­rec­tor of hu­man health and nu­tri­tion of Safe­food and she says that by or­gan­is­ing your shop­ping list and plan­ning and pre­par­ing meals in ad­vance, peo­ple can make a big dif­fer­ence to their weight and over­all health.

“Cook­ing skills and or­gan­ised shop­ping are cru­cial when it comes to get­ting rid of ex­cess weight,” she says. “By tak­ing con­trol of what you are eat­ing, you will be much more aware of how many calo­ries are in it – and you can ac­tu­ally add a nob of but­ter rather than per­haps the half pound that might be in a ready-made ver­sion.”

Dr Mar­ian O’Reilly, chief spe­cial­ist in nu­tri­tion at Safe­food, agrees and says por­tion size is also very im­por­tant. “A great place to start your food shop­ping – make a list and re­ally try to stick to it,” she ad­vises. “Try not to shop when you’re hun­gry, in a rush or stressed as that can make im­pulse buys more tempt­ing.

“And whether eat­ing at home or eat­ing out, we need to choose more ap­pro­pri­ate por­tion sizes. Just an ex­tra 100 calo­ries a day can lead to a weight gain of 4kg over the course of a year. Us­ing smaller plates is a good start, as is in­clud­ing more vegeta­bles or salad with your din­ner at home.

“And if you’re eat­ing out, think about shar­ing por­tions, and chil­dren need child-sized por­tions, not adult ones. Also, sorry to say this, but we need to for­get what our moth­ers told us about fin­ish­ing ev­ery­thing on our plate.”­

Health Tip of the Week is spon­sored by Pfizer as part of its Healthy Town ini­tia­tive. Ev­ery year Pfizer se­lects a town to take part in a unique ini­tia­tive aimed at show­ing you – no mat­ter what age you are, or where you live – sim­ple steps to im­prove your health; irish­­sored/ healthy-town. For more in­for­ma­tion visit irish­

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