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Food portion control and healthy eating

Over-sized muffins and cookies, big buckets of popcorn at the movies, larger bottles of soft drink — in the last two decades the portion sizes of many foods have increased, along with our waistlines. Even the sizes of plates have increased so that a modest portion of food looks puny.

A feature of fast-food marketing is 'supersizing' — a strategy designed to give consumers more 'value for money. Meal deals are a good example. They offer meal options with a food such as a burger and for a small extra cost you will receive a larger serving of items like chips and a soft drink. But while they might give added 'value' they also provide extra kilojoules that are contributing to the nation's obesity problem.

Avoiding portion distortion

  • Get to know the serving sizes of different foods recommended in the National Health and Medical Research Council Dietary Guidelines
  • Buy smaller sizes of chocolate bars, muffins, biscuits and juices. For example, a 600mL container of apple juice has around the same amount of kilojoules as four apples.
  • If you can only buy a large size meal, share it with a friend
  • Think twice about meal deals — does your waistline really need the extra kilojoules?
  • Be aware that if food is on your plate, you’re likely to eat it all — even if you’re not hungry. If you’re eating at home, don’t overload your plate and eat more slowly. If you’re still genuinely hungry when you’ve finished, you can always have more. If you’re eating out, don’t feel compelled to eat everything on your plate. When you've had enough to eat and are starting to feel full, ask for a doggy bag to take the remaining food home for later.

What’s a standard serving?


  • One medium piece of fruit such as an apple, banana, pear, orange
  • Two smaller pieces of fruit, for example apricots or kiwi fruits
  • A cup canned fruit or fruit salad
  • 1-2 tablespoons of raisins or sultanas
  • 125mL fruit juice.


  • One cup salad
  • Half a cup cooked vegetables
  • One tomato.

Bread, cereal, rice and pasta

  • One cup cooked rice, cereal, pasta or porridge
  • 60g bread (two medium slices)
  • One medium bread roll.

Dairy products

  • One cup (250mL) milk
  • One small carton (200g) yoghurt
  • Two slices (40g) cheese.

Poultry, seafood, meat and meat alternatives

  • 65–100g cooked meat or chicken
  • 80–120g cooked fish fillets
  • Two small eggs
  • Half a cup cooked or canned legumes
  • A third of a cup nuts.

Further information

Why Go for 2 and 5? Healthy Eating


Australian Better Health Initative. Recommended serves and serving sizes. [online] Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. 2007 [last updated 13 Nov 2008, accessed 18 Aug 2010] Available from: and serving sizes-lp

Go for 2 and 5. What is a serve? [online] Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. [accessed 18 Aug 2010] Available from:

Healthy Eating. Recommended daily servings. [online] Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. 2005 [last updated 19 Jul 2006, accessed 18 Aug 2010] Available from:

National Health and Medical Research Council. Dietary Guidelines for all Australians. [online]. Canberra: ACT: Commonwealth of Australian. 2003 [accessed 4 Aug 2010] Available from:

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This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa by health professionals. To the best of their knowledge it is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.

Bupa Australia Pty Ltd makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. Bupa Australia is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information. Except that which cannot be excluded by law. We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your health. For more details on how we produce our health content, visit the About our health information page.

Last published 31 October 2010

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