Mindful Eating – ‘Handy’ Tips to Size Up Your Meal

The topic of weight gain or “how fat I am” is a common one when going out for meals with friends, colleagues and family. Yet, we immediately order a whole set meal that could feed a small family in Africa. The importance of diet control is well-recognized by even a second grader. But the basic question of ‘how much is enough’ obviously still baffles many adults, leading to overeating without you realizing.

While tedious calorie-counting would be the last thing on your mind when eating out, here are 2 fuss-free methods to size up your portions quickly when ordering to downsize your wardrobe.

  • Divide your average-sized plate into imaginary quarters to gauge the rough amount and relative proportions of different food groups you should have for a balanced meal.

Tip: Using smaller serving dishes to eat will make your food look more abundant on your plate.

  • Then use the second ‘handy’ rule of meal portioning based on the daily requirements suggested by the Health Promotion Board, Singapore. Spread the daily total servings among your meals – you can have 1 serving of bread (carbs) at breakfast, 2 servings of noodles at lunch, 1 serving of rice at dinner, and reserve 1 serving of plain crackers as snacks between meals. Allot your portion budget depending on your day’s schedule and food events (eg. birthday celebration).

Tip: Size up your portions when ordering (eg. ask for only half of the rice on your plate when buying economic rice). Most people have a tendency to finish up everything on their plates, especially when distracted by juicy lunchtime gossips with colleagues.


And here’s the ‘handy’ guide to downsize your waistline for good:

PROTEIN – 2 to 3 servings a day

1 Serving is:
1 palm-sized lean meat or skinless chicken
1 palm-sized fish, or
5 medium prawns
2 small blocks of soft tofu
¾ cup of cooked lentils, beans or peas
3 eggs (but eat no more than 4 yolks a week)
2 slices of cheese
2 glasses skim milk

Tip: Reserve ½ serving for dairy or other high calcium products. Go lean with protein. Limit deep-fried or oily dishes, go with healthier cooking methods. Cut down on sauces (hidden calories) dressed over your food.


CARBOHYDRATES – 5 servings a day

1 Serving is:

1 medium potato (1 fist), or

½ bowl of rice
½ bowl of noodles or pasta
2 small chapattis
1 ½ cup plain cornflakes
2 slices of bread

Tip: Choose low glycaemic-index wholegrains over refined carbs. Opt for soup noodles over dried options.


GREENS – 2 servings a day

1 Serving is:
1 rounded handful of salad leaves
1 rounded handful of baby carrots
1 cup of cooked broccoli (2 palms cupped = 1 cup)
1 cup of cooked leafy vegetables

Tip: Go for a rainbow variety of veggies. And take more dietary fibre – A new European study on 300,000 people in 8 countries suggests that doubling your intake to 8 servings of fruit and veggies will reduce your risk of heart disease by 22 percent and may boost your longevity.


FRUIT – 2 servings a day

1 Serving is:
1 average apple, orange or pear (1 fist), or
10 grapes or longans
1 medium banana
1 wedge pineapple, papaya, watermelon
1 glass pure fruit juice

Tip: You can have your fruit as a snack later if you feel 70% full after your main meal.



It is advisable to take smaller meals but with healthy snacks in between to eliminate out-of-control hunger due to low blood sugar and resultant binge eating in the next meal:

  • 2 plain whole-wheat crackers (count as ½ serving of carbs)
  • 1 small cup non-fat yogurt
  • 10 almonds (1 small handful of nutritious organic nuts)

Tip: Cutting down on sugared drinks is an easy way to reducing empty calories.


– By Emily Wong


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