CHECK YOUR PORTION SIZE: Four easy steps to control portion sizes



Serve sizes can be confusing and even if you think you are making the right choice, often the food manufacturer dictates how much of a product they constitute as a serve.

Additionally, how we eat a meal and from what type of plate can also have an impact on how much food is consumed.

With the size of dinner plates around Australia increasing year after year, and take-away portions large enough to feed a family, knowing what to look for and implementing some strategies to check in with your portion sizes is a great way maintain health.


  1. Check in with how big your dinner plates are:

Dinner plates are bigger than they used to be. An average dinner size plate is 28.5cm. Go on, get out the measuring tape and measure your dinner plate you might just be surprised.

To check in with your portion sizes, use a smaller plate for some or all meals. And if you’re unsure of what is actually a healthy portion size, head to


  1. Know your fruit and veg serve sizes:

For general health and well-being, and to reduce the risk of chronic disease, it is recommended Australians consume 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day. And remember a serve of vegetables = 1/2 cup or 75g cooked vegetables or 1 cup salad. A serve of fruit = 1 medium piece of fruit 0r 150g fresh fruit. Interestingly, children still require almost just as much as adults when it comes to fruit and veg. From the age of 9, it is recommended children consume the same healthy serve sizes of fruit and vegetables as adults.

 Tip: Based on a family of four, that’s ten cups of vegetables per day.


  1. Know your discretionary foods serve sizes:


Remember discretionary foods are foods that you can eat at your discretion or sometimes. They are not an essential part of the diet because they are often high in saturated fat, sodium, sugar and low in fibre. But how much is too much?

Here are some example discretionary foods and the recommended appropriate serve sizes.


  • Enjoy no more than 2 standard drinks on any day
  • Enjoy 2 alcohol-free days each week
  • Consume no more than 4 standard drinks on any one occasion
  • 1 standard drink contains 10g of alcohol (100ml wine, 285ml full-strength beer, 60ml port or sherry, 30ml spirits)

Soft drink:

  • 375ml (1 can) soft drink


  • 2 scoops (75g) regular ice cream


  • 25g chocolate (a small bar or 4 squares)

Hot chips:

  • 12 (60g) fried hot chips

For more examples go to To work out how many serves of discretionary food you’re eating each day, one serve is 600kJ.


  1. Plate your meal and set the table. 

Although we live in a world that is in love with convenience, making a time to eat and enjoy your meal can help check your portion size.

  • Set aside time for each meal breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Set the table
  • Choose a plate, opt for your food to fill the imaginary line no bigger than your hand span
  • When eating out of a container for lunch or when eating takeaway, plate your meal

Sit Less, Move More: Lessons from Steptember


During the month of September, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team stepped it up a notch and joined Steptember. The team thought it was a great opportunity to increase our daily exercise, and create new healthy habits that align with sitting less and moving more. Plus we also wanted to raise some much-needed money for people living with cerebral palsy who often don’t have the opportunity to walk and move around as much as us.

To learn more about cerebral palsy please visit The Cerebral Palsy Alliance that aim to support people living with a physical and neurological disability.

The goals set by the team behind Steptember were to achieve 10,000 steps per day. So did the QCWA Country Kitchen Team achieve this? And What did we do to get many more steps in each day?

Here’s how we did:

Despite an amazing effort by the team, aiming for 10,000 steps per day was a challenge. Our final number of steps was 819, 979 steps. That’s an average of around 6000 steps per day with a team of five of us.

Here’s what we did:

Bec started getting the train from the Gold Coast just to get some early morning steps in and has started running up some big beachside hills occasionally after work.

Fiona used everyday activities such as shopping and gardening to get her steps up. She also noticed that being on the road and conducting Hands On Nutrition Workshops achieved an amazing 7500 steps!

Alice started a daily exercise routine and would make an effort to put her headphones in when talking to friends and family so she could get stepping.

Chloe started getting the train in the morning to work and added a few extra steps to her morning routine

Connie decided that getting to work early was the best way to get some extra steps on her a morning run. Connie also made a huge effort to do an hourly was in her local area each day.


Lessons from Steptember

Achieving 10,000 steps per day is challenging but it is no excuse not to try. Here are some of the QCWA Country Kitchens teams’ ideas on how we can all bump up our steps every day.


Before work

  • Set the alarm 30 minutes earlier and get out for a crisp morning walk or run
  • Choose to take public transport, bike or walk to work
  • Meet a colleague or friend before work and head to the local park for a chat and walk


During work

  • Set a reminder to get up, get a glass of water and do some steps on the spot
  • Invest in a standing desk
  • Take the stairs at every opportunity
  • At lunch, get the team together, put your walking shoes on and head out for a stroll
  • Keep a pair of walking shoes under your desk and ready to go


After work

  • Get outside, get some fresh air and get those steps up
  • Cook dinner to music and move your body
  • When grocery shopping, choose a carpark furthest away from the entrance and walk the extra distance
  • Join a sports team once or twice a week
  • Call a friend, put your headphones in and get walking


Every day we can all aim for more steps, remember that every little bit counts and investing in a good pair of walking shoes can add motivation. Although Steptember is great, remember to sit less and move more every day not just for the month of September. Setting a goal and aiming for 10,000 steps each day is a great way to stay motivated for the remainder of the year.

For more tips and tricks on how to get more active check out the Healthier. Happier website for easy to do, everyday activities.

COOK AT HOME: Flying solo? Tips and tricks to get you cooking at home.

Woman cooking

Did you know that 1 in 4 Australian households are a one person only households? (ABS Census of Housing and Population, 2011).

Although living alone can depict a picture of loneliness and isolation, some people enjoy living along as the benefit include increased independence, a stress-free environment and taking the time to do what they want, when they want. However, living alone can also be a challenge when it comes to cooking and preparing meals.

Cooking for one whether you live alone or with others can be thought of as a barrier but don’t fret, cooking can still be enjoyable, taste great and be highly nutritious, all without much of the effort. In line with the QCWA’s Cook At Home key message, cooking for one is no excuse not to get back in the kitchen and experiment with old and new recipes.

To make cooking for one more enjoyable and less time consuming, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team have put together some tips and tricks to making cooking for one, easy, nutritious and enjoyable.


Top tips and tricks to get you cooking for one:


  1. Take time to cook a nutritious meal and enjoy experimenting with old and new recipes in the kitchen: We are all living such busy lives these days and the joy of cooking seems to have been replaced with resentment. Take the time to plan your meals, buy the produce, speak to the locals and enjoy the entire process of nourishing your body.
  2. Invite the neighbours over or a friend to enjoy a meal with you: Cooking for one can get a bit boring and lonely at times. To combat this, broaden your social network and invite the neighbours over or reconnect with family or old friends and enjoy great conversation over a tasty meal.
  3. Cook for 2, 3, or 4, pack away and store in the freezer for a later date: Once a month, cook up a big pot of soup or savoury mince and portion these into smaller packs ready for the month ahead. This makes cooking much easier when you simply can’t be bothered, fall sick or have an extremely busy day.
  4. Opt for a nutritious toasty: Cooking a nutritious and tasty meal doesn’t have to be a huge effort. A simple toasted cheese sandwich can do the job. On a slice of bread, add pesto, baked beans, and top with fresh spinach. Slice up your favourite cheese and place over the spinach. Bake until the cheese melts.
  5. Buy vegetables that go with multiple dishes: Choosing vegetables that are versatile and that you enjoy. For example, zucchini is a great veggie, perfect for soups, on toasties, grated into Bolognese or even chargrilled on the barbecue.
  6. Add frozen vegetables to meals: These days frozen meals are a great option. It is better to pull the veggies out of the freezer than to have none at the dinner table. For extra convenience, choose the packets that a pre-portioned and add to any breakfast, lunch or dinner for an antioxidant boost!


If you have any tips or tricks, please let us know. We would love to hear from you and share your ideas with the rest of the QCWA Country Kitchens Community!

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