Nutritionist Paula Norris is trying to make a point about how small, almost unnoticeable changes to delicious meals can drastically change them—for better or worse.
On Instagram, Norris began a series called "Spot the Difference" where she asks you to find the difference between two dishes that certainly LOOK identical, but contain vastly different calorie counts.
Though consuming less calories does not always equal a healthier meal, Norris's overall intention is to highlight the importance of being calorie conscious when constructing your meals:
"Ever since I studied Dietetics, I haven't bothered with drastic diet changes to achieve goals because I know how short term, unsustainable and depressing they are. Changes I make are small, almost unnoticeable and spread across days and weeks."
"Decreasing the serve size of energy dense foods and increasing portions of low energy density foods has been key for me. A lot of small changes can add up!"
Can you spot the difference between these dishes?
Below each picture is Norris's caption describing the subtle difference in ingredients.
Unfortunately calorie heavy dressings, too much grain and not enough veg can result in a 'salad' with calories closer to that of a risotto. Here's how easily it can happen, even with 'salads' of similar bulk...
🔸On the left:• 1 cup cooked Pearl Barley• 70g Haloumi• 1/3 Zucchini• 2 florets Broccoli• 1/4 Capsicum• 50g Eggplant• 3 Cherry Tomatoes• 200g Poached Chicken• 1/2 cup herbs• Dressing of 2tsp EVOO and 2tsp Balsamic Vinegar
🔹On the right:• 1/2 cup cooked Pearl Barley• 35g Haloumi• 2/3 Zucchini• 5 florets Broccoli• 1/2 Capsicum• 100g Eggplant• 5 Cherry Tomatoes• 100g Poached Chicken• 1/2 cup herbs• Dressing of 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar and 2tsp seeded mustard
In another example, Norris shows examples of the popular bowl meals.
These posts are NOT to encourage calorie counting but are to demonstrate the impact that ingredient manipulation can have on the overall calories in a meal (obviously important for those of you who are trying to lose weight).
On the left:🔸50g Feta🔸200g Sweet Potato 🔸4 Cherry Tomatoes🔸1/2 cup Baby Spinach🔸1/4 small Capsicum🔸1/6 medium Zucchini🔸1 cup cooked Quinoa🔸180g Poached chicken🔸Dressing of Balsamic Vinegar + Olive Oil.
On the right:🔹25g Feta🔹100g Sweet Potato🔹8 Cherry Tomatoes🔹1 cup Baby Spinach🔹1/2 small Capsicum🔹1/3 medium Zucchini🔹1/2 cup cooked Quinoa🔹120g Poached chicken🔹Dressing of Balsamic Vinegar
Then two standard fish meals.
Both of these meals are healthy but depending on your goals you may make some modifications for more or less calories.This one is also important as while good fats are of course amazing for and required by our bodies- the calories can add up. So if you're trying to move some weight you need to be aware of portions of even good fats.
🔸On the left • Large (220g) Salmon fillet (when raw)• 2tsp oil for pan frying• 1 serve (~200g) soba noodles• 1 Tbsp Edamame • 1/4 carrot - julienned• 1/2 cup cooked spinach• 25g Broccoli (~2 florets)• 1/2 medium Avocado 🥑 • 1 tsp lime juice • 1/4 cup basil• 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
🔹On the right:• Small (150g) Salmon fillet (when raw) baked without added fat • 1/3 serve (~70g) soba noodles• 2 Tbsp Edamame• 1/2 carrot - julienned• 3/4 cup cooked spinach• 50g Broccoli (~2 florets)• 2 cherry tomatoes• 1/4 medium Avocado 🥑 • 1 tsp lime juice• 1/4 cup basil• 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
🔸On the left: • 1 1/2 Cup Brown Rice• 1/4 Capsicum• 1/4 Cup Peas• 1/2 Cob Corn• 1/2 Egg • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce• 1/4 Carrot• 180g chicken• 2 tsp Oil
🔹On the right:• 1/2 Cup Brown Rice • 1/2 Cup Cauli Rice• 1/2 Capsicum• 1/2 Cup Peas• 1/2 Con Corn• 1/2 Carrot• 1/2 Egg• 8 Green Beans• 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce• 100g chicken
On the left: 🔹2 tsp oil for cooking🔹1Tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce🔹280g Chicken (1 medium breast)🔹1 cup Brown Rice🔹Half the amount of Veg (1/4 red capsicum, 1/2 small carrot, 1 Medium Mushroom, 2 pieces Broccolini)🔹2 tsp Soy sauce, 2 tsp Oyster sauce, 2 tsp Lime Juice.
Healthy Swaps on the Right:🔸No oil for cooking (you can use water or the sauce instead)🔸1tsp Sriracha instead of Sweet Chilli (it's stronger flavour means you need less)🔸150g chicken🔸1/2 cup Brown Rice🔸Double the Veg. (1/2 red capsicum, 1 medium carrot, 2 Medium Mushrooms, 1/2 bunch Broccolini)🔸 2 tsp Soy sauce, 2 tsp Oyster sauce, 2 tsp Lime Juice
if you want to gain weight or maybe you want to maintain but have higher energy requirements- go left. If your goal is to lose or maintain weight - go right. This Pad Thai is on MEDIUM sized dinner plates (hence why they fill up most of it!)
🔸On the left:• 200g cooked chicken thigh• 2tsp oil for cooking• 130g (when dry) rice noodles• 1/4 red onion• 1/2 carrot - julienned• 3 snow peas - chopped• 1Tbsp Soy sauce• 1/2tsp Fish sauce• 1Tbsp Lime juice• 1/2 egg
🔹On the right: • 120g cooked chicken breast• 1tsp oil for cooking• 70g (when dry) rice noodles• 1/4 red onion• 1 carrot - julienned• 8 snow peas - chopped• 1 bunch Chinese Spinach• 1Tbsp Soy sauce• 1/2tsp Fish sauce• 1Tbsp Lime juice• 1/2 egg
Too big a burrito? Ok so the size of the wrap (which saves about 100cals) makes this one more obvious but the other differences save you an extra 300cals!⠀
🔸On the left: • Large wrap• 1tsp oil for cooking• 1/2 brown onion• 160g Regular mince• Taco seasoning• 1/2 tin tomatoes• 1 cup lettuce• 1/2 tomato• 50g Avocado• 40g cheese
🔹On the right:• Medium wrap• 1/2 brown onion• 100g Extra lean mince• 50g black beans• 1/3 Zucchini• 1/2 medium carrot• Taco seasoning• 1/2 tin tomatoes• 1 cup lettuce• 1/2 tomato• 25g Avocado• 20g Low Fat cheese
EASY WAYS TO CUT CALS: • Reduce oil in cooking. Try spray oil. • Replace some of the starchy carbs with non-starchy vegetables • Add moderate amounts of healthy fats (nuts, seeds, oil in dressing)
While 170 Calories difference doesn't seem huge, a few small changes like this across the day can be the difference between weight gain, maintenance and loss 3 almost unnoticeable changes like this across your day will cut the calories required to lose 0.5kg per week. So while 170 Calories doesn't sound like much, it can help you get to your goals. And because the difference between these bowls in bulk is minimal, both will be filling!
On the left:🔹3/4 cup muesli🔹100g full fat yoghurt🔹1Tbsp sultanas🔹1/4 cup mixed berries🔹1 Tbsp Chia seeds🔹1 tsp Pomegranate seed.
On the Right:🔸1/2 cup muesli🔸100g reduces fat yoghurt🔸3/4 cup mixed berries🔸2 tsp Chia seeds🔸1 tsp Pomegranate seeds
Meal on the left has:🔹300g chicken breast (medium sized breast) pan fried in 1tsp oil 🔹Mayonaise dressing🔹Bacon rasher🔹Croutons baked with 1tsp oil🔹15g Parmesan cheese.
The salad on the right has:🔸120g chicken grilled without added fat🔸Add Red Onion for flavour (since you're omitting Bacon!)🔸Additional Cherry tomatoes and carrot for bulk since you're using less chicken🔸Croutons baked without oil🔸Dressing made on 1Tbsp natural yoghurt + 1 tsp Dijon mustard + garlic (which is actually delicious)🔸5g Parmesan cheese [Both have the same amount of lettuce, bread and anchovies]
While Avo is oh so healthy, if you're trying to achieve the calorie deficit needed to lose weight then it's best to moderate your portion size• Aim for 1/4 large or 1/3 small max
No change in ingredients - just different amounts!
On the left:🔸180g steak (untrimmed)🔸1tsp Oil (to cook steak)🔸2 cups Lettuce🔸4 rings Red Onion🔸50g Avocado🔸1cup Cooked Rice Noodles🔸30g Cucumber🔸2 Cherry Tomatoes🔸2 tsp Sesame Oil🔸2 tsp Lime Juice🔸1 tsp Soy Sauce.
On the Right: 🔹100g steak (trimmed) and grilled (without oil)🔹2 cups Lettuce🔹4 rings Red Onion🔹25g Avocado🔹1/2cup Cooked Rice Noodles🔹50g Cucumber🔹4 Cherry Tomatoes🔹1/2 medium Carrot🔹1 tsp Sesame Oil🔹2 tsp Lime Juice🔹2 tsp Soy Sauce [Both recipes have equal amounts of garlic, mint, coriander, chilli and ginger]
You can apply some of the below modifications based on your fitness goals- if you want to gain weight - go left. If your goal is to lose or maintain weight - go right. The bulk of these meals is pretty much the same, so both will be equally filling. This is important because satiety is one of the major challenges when trying to lose weight and many people think they need to eat smaller meals. This is simply not necessary!
🔸On the left• 3 small soft shell tacos• 1tsp oil for cooking• 1/2 garlic clove• 1/2 brown onion• 200g Regular mince• Taco seasoning + herbs• 1/2 tin tomatoes• 4 cherry tomatoes• 1/4 small corn cob• 50g Avocado• 40g full fat cheddar cheese
🔹On the right• 3 large lettuce leaves for shells• 1Tbsp water for cooking• 1/2 garlic clove • 1/2 brown onion• 100g Extra lean mince• 70g red kidney beans• 1 small grated carrot • Taco seasoning + herbs• 1/2 tin tomatoes• 8 cherry tomatoes• 25g dices capsicum • 1/4 small corn cob• 25g Avocado• 10g Parmesan cheese (Parmesan has a much sharper flavour so you can get away with much less)
The calories in the bowl on the left quickly add up because of: - Large amount of rice (1 cup cooked)- Half an Avo (even though it is healthy- it is still energy dense)- Extra seeds (same disclaimer as the Avo)- Mayonnaise dressing.
The bowl on the right has:- 1/3 cup cooked rice- 1/4 Avocado 🥑- 1 tsp seeds- Tahini + lemon juice for dressingl
Hummus is often a go to healthy snack but the calorie density of some brands is almost triple others due to the amount of oil added in production ✔️Check the label and pick one with between 500-650kJ/120-150cals per 100g product
So you might think more calories and volume will help keep you fuller for longer. Unfortunately this is not always the case. The high carbohydrate load thanks to adding the muffin and danish on the plate on the right hand side may actually leave you feeling hungry SOONER.When we eat a large amount of carbs in one sitting (known as glycemic load), our blood sugar levels go up relative to the amount we've eaten. Our bodies then release insulin in an effort to regulate our blood sugar levels to bring them back to within a desirable range. The spike and fall of blood sugar and insulin has been shown that it can leave people feeling hungry sooner. So while carbs are NOT BAD- our bodies are better at processing them when they're consumed in moderate portions across the day instead of in huge loads. **Results will vary between individuals but it is something to consider if you find yourself often getting hungry soon after what seems like a decent sized meal!
While pasta is not the devil, it gets a bad wrap. The portion size and what we load it up with can be an issue, it's easy for the cals to add up!
〰️On the left:🔹 2 tsp EVOO🔹 200g chicken🔹 30g semi-trimmed bacon🔹 2 cups cooked pasta🔹 30g full fat cheddar🔹 2 large Florets Broccoli, 1 medium mushroom.
✔️Easy swaps to get the dish on the right: 🔸100g chicken (cooked in a little water instead of oil)🔸 1 cup cooked Pasta🔸 1 tsp capers🔸 10g Low Fat cheddar🔸 1/4 large capsicum, 4 large florets Broccoli, 2 medium mushrooms[Both recipes contain 100ml passata, 1Tbsp tomato paste, garlic clove, 1/4 red onion, 2 anchovies, Chilli, herbs, salt and pepper]
It's easy to fill our bowl up with oats. They're unprocessed nature means a 'serve' doesn't look like a lot in the bowl when they're raw. If you're trying to save some calories opt for a smaller bowl of oats and top up with some extra fruit! 👆🏻This pic is 2/3 cup uncooked on the left and 1/3 on the right. Over a year this small change made daily is the equivalent of 5kg worth of calories
HEALTHY SWAPS FOR YOUR LASAGNE.⠀
On the left (per serve):🔹150g Standard Mince🔹2tsp oil to cook mince🔹100g cream🔹40g Cheese for white sauce and to top.
On the right (per serve):🔸100g lean Mince🔸Use water to cook in fry pan (less need for Oil when you're using so many tasty ingredients!)🔸1/2 Medium Carrot🔸1/4 large Zucchini🔸Replace 100g cream with 75g Ricotta + 25ml milk (to get right consistency)🔸12g Parmesan cheese to top. Parmesan has a sharper flavour which means you need less on top. Using Ricotta for white sauce means you can go without cheese🔹🔸[Both contain 1/4 brown onion, 1 lasagne sheet, 35g tomato paste, 1/4 tin tomatoes, chilli, thyme, oregano and parsley per serve]
Bowl on the left made with: 🔹180g regular mince🔹1 tsp Oil for cooking🔹15g Parmesan🔹1 cup cooked pasta
🍝Save some cals by:🔸Replacing 1/2 cup pasta with zoodles (but still keeping 1/2 cup pasta!)🔸Use less mince (100g) and choose extra lean🔸Add 1 grated carrot, a fresh tomato and extra grated zucchini🔸Start cooking with a small amount of water instead of oil🔸Use a smaller amount of Parmesan (5g) [both have tinned tomato, herbs, garlic, onion and chilli]
How many differences were you able to spot? Probably not as many as you expected!
With Norris's help, paying attention to what we put in our bodies is becoming easier than ever.