There are many questions that you might have during your healthy eating plan and one specifically that many have is: How much should to you exactly eat?

Understanding food portions can be confusing and tricky, but it’s all about a balanced plate and once you get your head round this, eating the right amount can become second nature.

Firstly, a balanced plate as recommended by Australian Dietary Guidelines should include 50 per cent veggies and salad, 25 % of lean protein and 25% of complex carbs.

So if you look at your plate you simply need to say half of it should be veggies or salad, a quarter should be complex carbs and another quarter should be lean protein.

To understand what this means, you can simply use a cup. So, your plate should consist of one cup of veggies and salad, half a cup of complex carbs such as low GI grain such as brown rice or quinoa, brown or pulse pasta or sweet potato and half a cup of lean protein such as lean meat, fish, eggs or tofu.

Ideally, when choosing your veggies or salad you should aim to eat a rainbow, so as many different colours as possible so this might mean leafy greens, with grated carrots, yellow capsicum, purple cabbage, red tomatoes and brown mushrooms.

Buddha bowls work particularly well in this case and can be easily made to create a simple yet nourishing meal by adding half a cup of rice or quinoa then another half a cup of tofu or lean chicken breast to your rainbow plate of veggies.

If you need a meal on the go, then simply ensure you use the cup method in your lunch box and weigh out each component separately before placing in your lunchbox.

So to put this into perspective, if you feel like spaghetti and meatballs for lunch, make sure you only have half a cup of preferably brown or pulse pasta, half a cup of meatballs alongside a full cup of veggies.

Most people tend to focus on either the carbs or protein being the main part of the meal and will only eat vegetables as a garnish, but this is the most nutrient dense part of your meal and should always be the hero.

And, if you feel like half a cup of pasta isn’t enough in your spaghetti and meatballs, simply add a full cup of zoodles (spiralised zucchini) to trick your mind into thinking you’re having more.

This way you’ll get in your full cup of recommended veggies serve and you won’t overdo it on the carbs!

Ensuring that you stick to these portion sizes is vital in building a long-term healthy eating plan and will set you up for success in eating a nutritious and balanced plate at every meal.