Health Topics

Healthy Living

January 2012
How to Control Your Portions
Prachi Patodia Saraf
Portion control is very important, especially if you are on a diet. Bigger portions of anything (yes, even vegetables and fruits) can easily lead to calorie overload.

You need to consume a healthy mix of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fats to have a healthy lifestyle. Work with a qualified dietician to design an eating plan that suits your
requirements. Given below is an easy to follow guide to ensure your meals are well balanced.


The main function of protein is to build and repair the body. Vegetarians need to eat protein from a variety of sources to get complete protein. Include protein in every meal and snack throughout the day.

“15-20% of your daily calories should come from protein,” says Dr Rita Bhargava, Clinical Nutritionist. However, protein consumption varies depending on one’s age, weight and workout routine. Eat five to eight servings of protein during the day. Protein has four calories per gram.

Given here are some ideas on how to consume protein. Remember you might have more than one serving of protein in a single meal. Each example is that of one serving of protein. So 150 ml of milk is one serving of protein. One cup is 200 ml.

150 ml milk/1 egg or 2 egg white omlette / ¾ cup baked beans

250 ml buttermilk/150 ml yoghurt/ 30-40 g paneer/ 30 g raw dal/ 25 g soya nuggets/ 30 g tofu/ 80g fish or chicken without the skin

Mid-afternoon snack
150 ml soy milk/ 30 g low fat cheese/ 1 tablespoon peanut butter/ ¼ cup hummus/ 1/4 cup of nuts/ 2 small chillas/ ¾ cup sprouts


Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Healthy carbs include complex, high fibre and low GI (glycemic index) carbs. Carbs include grains and fruits.

50 to 60 per cent of your total daily calories should come from carbs. Carbs have four calories per gram.

Given below are ideas on how to consume carbs in every meal through the day. You might consume more than one serving in a single meal. Each example is that of one serving.

Grains: Eat five to eight servings daily

3/4 cup poha or upma or wheat flakes/2 tablespoon uncooked oats

1 stuffed parantha/2 thin phulkas/ ½ cup cooked brown rice or wheat pasta/ ½ cup noodles/ 2-3 rava idli

Mid-afternoon snack
slice of bread/ 3 rawa dhokla/ 1 khakra/ 3 Marie biscuits/any 2 cookies
Quick tips!

  • Buy unhealthy foods in smaller quantities.
  • Use small plates and bowls.
  • Learn visual clues to eyeball portions sizes.
    For example, one portion of fruit is the size of a tennis ball (e.g., an apple).
  • Avoid watching television while eating to prevent mindless bingeing.
  • Have lots of vegetables, soups, and salads that fill you up for lesser calories.
  • Food takes 20 minutes to digest, so wait before you eat seconds.
  • Order smaller portions at restaurants.

Fruits: Eat one to three fruits daily

Fruits like mango, banana, chikoo are exceptions as they have high carbs, so ½ mango is equal to one fruit serving.
  • Eat whole fruits over juices as juices have more sugar and less fibre compared to whole fruits.
  • Enjoy fruits (with skin) with a meal or as a snack. Be innovative and try a fruit chat or a fruit milk shake.

Vegetables are a great source of essential minerals and fibre.
  • Chose brightly coloured vegetables.
  • Consume four to six servings of vegetables daily.
One serving = ¾ cup of cooked vegetable/2 bowls of clear soup/1 bowl of salad

Fat is a major source of energy and helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Monosaturated and polyunsatured fats are healthy in small quantity. Avoid bad fats like saturated and trans fats.

15-20 per cent of your daily calories should come from fat; unless if you are overweight (then it is 10 per cent). Consume three to four servings of fat daily. Fat has nine calories per gram.

“Fat comes from visible sources like oil and invisible sources like nuts, full-fat milk, olives and meats,” says dietician Sneha Fafat. Therefore, keep a control on the invisible sources of fat you consume, as you may consume fat unknowingly. One serving = 1 teaspoon of oil or ghee or butter/ 2 teaspoons mayonnaise/ 4 cashew nuts/ 9 large olive

Prachi Patodia Saraf is a health enthusiast and marathon runner,Mumbai
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
  • See additional information.