How a credit card, phone and tealight candle are key to faster weight loss

LOSING weight can feel like an impossible feat.

But did you know everyday items – including a credit card, phone and tealight candle – could help you with your journey?


Nuts are easy to scoff down. But they are high in calories, and a serving size is best fitted to a credit or oyster cardCredit: Sainsbury’s

We often hear about the importance of portion control for staying on top of weight.

It’s key for making sure you’re not eating too much: but it’s also very hard to do.

Thats unless you have the time and effort to weigh each bite on scales – which, let’s face it, not many of us do.

Learning how to portion control by using your eyes is both easier and practical.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, a dietician and from the Health & Food Supplements Information Service, told The Sun: “Portions have got bigger and bigger over the past two decades, and our trousers have got more and more stretchy.

“We’ve lost the ability to portion size ourselves because everything around us is packaged bigger – even the small popcorn at the cinema is huge.

“It’s all calories at the end of the day, and if you’re eating too much of it and not exercising enough, then you’ll have a calorie gain, and that leads to body weight increase.”

How to portion control, and its impact on weight, will be different for each individual.

For those who are starting their weight loss journey, Dr Carrie said first cut down on the unhealthy foods like takeaways, sweets, soft drinks, alcohol, cakes and biscuits, while focusing on eating more fruit and veg.

But if you’ve been on a weight loss plan for a while, and have plateaued, it might be time to start thinking about using portion control on even healthier items, like nuts.

Dr Carrie said: “I see a lot of people in clinic with a healthy diet, and you can’t fault it. But they’ve plateaued, and it’s normally down to portion sizes.”

Some experts use their hands to remember a basic serving size, such as a palm-sized portion of meat, and a thumb-sized portion of cheese.

But Sainsbury’s created a guide to portion control using several everyday items which you can print off and stick on the fridge as a handy guide.

Some foods are “treats”, like ice cream and crisps, which Dr Carrie recommends trying to limit to only occasionally if your goal is weight loss.

Nuts: Credit or oyster card

Dr Carrie said she would recommend between 30g and 50g of nuts – which is the size of a credit or oyster card, or pack of travel size tissues.

She said: “Studies have shown even those overweight, a handful of nuts doesn’t stop them losing weight. That’s probably because they are high in protein.

“I’d be careful about going out and buying a packet – something like salted peanuts is usually about 100g. It’s often not clean nuts, there will be extra oil and salt.”

Cheese: Matchbox

30g of cheese


30g of cheeseCredit: Sainsbury’s

Cheese is one of those foods that is incredibly hard to cut down on.

Really you should try and stick to 30g of cheese if you’re having something like a cheese sandwich or on with a salad.

Thirty grams of cheddar contains roughly 6.5g of saturated fat, and the NHS recommends no more than 30g (men) or 20g (women) of saturated fat per day, which includes cheese.

Dr Carrie said: “Fat has double the calories of carbs and proteins per gram or teaspoon. So start looking at high-fat foods like cheese, butter, fatty meats and oils, as well as discretionary foods like ice cream and pastries.”

Pasta: Takeaway coffee cup

75g of pasta


75g of pastaCredit: Sainsbury’s

Look on the back of a pasta packet and you’ll likely see a recommendation for around 75g.

No doubt it will look much smaller than what you are used to. If that’s the case, fill the plate with vegetables.

A takeaway coffee cup is an easy way to remember how much pasta to use per person when weighing it out dry.

Dr Carrie said you “can get fat on pasta”, adding: “If you’ve got to the stage where you’ve plateaued with your weight loss, it’s things like pasta, cereal and bread that are adding a bit too many calories to the diet overall.”

Red meat: Pack of cards

70g of red meat


70g of red meatCredit: Sainsbury’s

Red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

But too much of it, and processed meats like ham and bacon, increases your risk of bowel cancer.

The NHS says people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat a day cut down to 70g or less. This looks like the size of a pack of cards.

Mash: Tennis ball

200g of mash


200g of mashCredit: Sainsbury’s

Mash is a common staple of the British diet and another one that is easy to overeat.

Try and keep it to the size of a tennis ball, or the palm of your hand.

While potato is a vegetable with many health benefits, too many carbohydrates without much exercise can contribute to fat gain.

Cereal: CD

30g of cereal


30g of cerealCredit: Sainsbury’s

Sadly a portion of cereal is actually very small, and many people don’t realise this.

A 30g portion is around the size of a CD.

Some cereals are very high in sugar, including those targeted to children.

Granola: Small mobile

50g of granola


50g of granolaCredit: Sainsbury’s

Granola is delicious and easy to use in excess, especially when it is considered so healthy.

It’s recommended that a portion is no more than 50g, which can be a few hundred calories. This is about the size of a small phone.

Dr Carrie said: “Granola has usually got added sugar, nuts and honey, and some oil, so it’s a much more calorie dense product than cornflakes.

“If you put some in a cereal bowl, then add milk, you’ve ended up with a large portion. But if you sprinkle a couple of tablespoons on top of yoghurt, it’s less granola while still having it.”

Fish: Computer mouse

140g of fish


140g of fishCredit: Sainsbury’s

Fish is a great source of lean protein and the NHS recommends swapping red meat for fish where you can.

But that isn’t a go ahead to eat tonnes of it. A typical fish portion weighs about 140g – which looks like a computer mouse.

It’s advised to eat at least two portions of oily fish, like salmon, every week.

Chips: Kitchen sponge

125g of chips


125g of chipsCredit: Sainsbury’s

A mid-week dinner for you and the kids often involves a hearty portion of oven chips.

The key object to remember is a sponge, which is a 125g serving.

Grapes: Eyeglasses case

80g of grapes


80g of grapesCredit: Sainsbury’s

Most experts say if you’re struggling to eat enough fruit and veg, it’s not worth stressing about how much you’re eating of it.

But some fruits are more sugary than others, like grapes, mango and pineapple.

Dr Carrie said: “I don’t want to stop people from eating fruit and veg. But if you find yourself picking at a box of grapes and then all of a sudden the bunch is gone, that would be quite a lot of sugar.

“Overweight people normally have fairly poor blood glucose control. If they’ve been overweight a long time, they could be on the cusp of pre-diabetes, so a whole bunch of grapes wouldn’t do them much good.”

Pringles: Bar of soap

30g of Pringles


30g of PringlesCredit: Sainsbury’s

Pringles and other crisps are one of the good things in life that satisfy that salty craving.

About 30g of Pringles (12) is a recommended serving size. It’s about the same width as a bar of soap.

Ice cream: Ball of string

56g of ice cream


56g of ice creamCredit: Sainsbury’s

If you’re treating yourself to some ice cream, a generous scoop of 56g is the same size of a ball of string.

Dr Carrie said: “If you fill up your basket with healthy foods and you’ve been active and fancy a treat, the discretionary foods might slot in on the top. I wouldn’t encourage them on a daily basis if trying to lose weight.

“Of course we should have their treats, we shouldn’t deny foods. But do think about how often you have discretionary foods if the goal is to lose weight.”

Nutella: Cork

37g Nutella


37g NutellaCredit: Sainsbury’s

A serving size of Nutella is about the size of a champagne or wine bottle cork.

But use it now and again, as it’s a high-sugar and fat spread. Having it every day for breakfast could contribute to your weight.

Salad dressing: Tea bag

15ml of salad dressing


15ml of salad dressingCredit: Sainsbury’s

“A salad dressing can pile on the calories onto a healthy salad,” Dr Carrie said.

Keep your salad dressing to about the size of a teabag. A salad isn’t worth eating if it’s not tasty, after all!

Ketchup: Tealight

15g ketchup


15g ketchupCredit: Sainsbury’s

Dr Carrie said ketchup, and condiments generally, aren’t going to be the reason you’re overweight.

But she said: “Some people can pick up four sachets of ketchup. A good squirt is usually around two sachets, or about a tablespoon.”

Many people are unaware ketchup is relatively high in sugar.

Butter: Two dice

10g butter


10g butterCredit: Sainsbury’s

Butter is easy to slather on toast and crumpets.

But you only really need around 10g. This contains around 5g of saturated fat, depending on the brand.

This is a fifth of a man’s daily saturated fat allowance (30g), and a quarter of a woman’s (20g), which just goes to show how quickly it can add up.

Nut butter: Lipstick

20g nut butter


20g nut butterCredit: Sainsbury’s

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking nut butter is a healthy food item. Do we really need to limit it?

Like nuts, nut butter is very calorific, with around one tablespoon containing more than 100 calories.

Stick to a lipstick sized portion for ease of remembering.

Nutritionist Steph Geddes’ general guide on what a good portion size is and how to keep the weight off over Christmas

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