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Afro-Caribbean? 5 tips to help with portions

A dish of ackee and salt fish served with boiled dumplings and yams.

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Portion control is essential for staying healthy, but we know it’s difficult. Here’s how you can keep your portions in check while enjoying all your favourite Afro-Caribbean foods.  

The most effective way of combating overeating is to control your portion sizes. This is something we all struggle with at times, which is why it’s helpful to have a few tricks up your sleeve. 

Tip 1: Build a balanced diet 

The aim is to make sure your diet has a good balance of food groups. Aim to fill your plate with fruits or vegetables (think ackee, pumpkin, pineapple, coconut), starchy carbs (like sweet potato, cassava, taro root, barley), and protein (lentils, chickpeas, mackerel, chicken). Include a small amount of oil, and keep foods high in salt, sugar, and fat to a minimum (this includes patties, pies, and fried dumplings). 

Tip 2: Try using smaller plates 

It sounds strange, but some people find serving meals on smaller plates helps them eat less. This is probably because a smaller plate will look filled with food much sooner than a larger plate, so you’ll think you’re eating more because the plate looks fuller. Give it a go! 

Tip 3: Pre-portion snacks 

Portion out your snacks into small tubs or bags in advance so it’s easy to grab and go when you’re feeling peckish. Plantain chips, crackers, and nuts are fine to snack on, but it’s easy to overeat them when you’re eating straight from the packet. Portioning out a healthy amount means you won’t overindulge.  

Tip 4: Measure ingredients 

We’re notoriously bad at judging portions by eye, so when cooking make sure you’re measuring out your ingredients to control your portion sizes. It’s easy to go overboard when dishing out rice, beans, and other ingredients. A digital kitchen scale is a helpful tool (and you don’t need to splash out on anything fancy, a cheap, basic one will do), and so is a set of measuring spoons.  

Tip 5: Focus on fruit and vegetables 

Ask yourself ‘where’s the veg?’ at every meal to remind yourself to fill up on vegetables. Vegetables are a fantastic addition to your diet when you’re trying to improve your health as they’re high in vitamins and minerals, and they’re also good for satisfying your hunger as you can bulk out your meals for relatively few calories. Callaloo, okra, aubergine, cabbage, peppers, carrots, spinach, and squash are all great options for adding to a variety of meals. 

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