Can you spot which meal is healthier? Dietitian shares two versions of a simple lunch

A dietitian has revealed the simple swaps you can make to cut the calories in your lunch in half, without even noticing the changes.   

Paula Norris, from Brisbane, explained that dishes that look very similar can vary by hundreds of calories due to how much of each ingredient is used.

Posting to Instagram, where she has more than 112,000 followers, the nutrition expert shared how a simple salad with chicken and rice can be cut from 900 to 600 calories by substituting some of the meat for black beans, and having a smaller portion of higher calorie ingredients such as avocado.

A dietitian has illustrated how the calories in your meals can vary by huge amounts without you even noticing (pictured: two different versions of Paula's lunches)

A dietitian has illustrated how the calories in your meals can vary by huge amounts without you even noticing (pictured: two different versions of Paula’s lunches)

‘Spot the difference between these two dishes,’ Paula said. 

‘I have always been a hungry human. So here’s an example of what I do so that I don’t go overboard on the calories whilst still getting plenty of food.’

Paula added that the meal on the left contains a staggering 900 calories, while the one on the left boasts just 600 calories.

The differences between the meals include varying amounts of chicken breast, black beans, rice, avocado and pumpkin seeds.

Paula Norris (pictured), from Brisbane, explained how something that looks the same - or at least very similar - can in fact vary by as many as 300 calories

Paula Norris (pictured), from Brisbane, explained how something that looks the same – or at least very similar – can in fact vary by as many as 300 calories

What does the meal on the left contain?

* 200g chicken breast cooked in 2tsp oil

* 1 cup rice

* 1/2 carrot

* 1/2 cup lettuce

* 1 cucumber 

* 6 cherry tomatoes

* 1/2 avocado

* 2tsp pumpkin seeds

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

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What does the meal on the right contain?

* 100g chicken breast cooked in 1tsp oil

* 100g black beans

* 1/2 cup rice

* 1 carrot

* 1 cup lettuce

* 2 cucumbers 

* 8 cherry tomatoes

* 1/4 avocado

* 1 tsp pumpkin seeds ⠀⠀

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‘On the left, there is 200 grams of chicken breast cooked in two teaspoons of oil, one cup of rice, half a carrot, half a cup of lettuce, one cucumber, six cherry tomatoes, half an avocado and two teaspoons of pumpkin seeds,’ Paula said.

‘On the right, there is just 100 grams of chicken breast cooked in one teaspoon of oil, 100 grams of black beans, 1/2 cup of rice, one carrot, one cup of lettuce, two cucumbers, eight cherry tomatoes, a quarter of an avocado and one teaspoon of pumpkin seeds.

Paula added: ‘Of course, the one on the left is also okay, especially if you have higher calorie requirements’.   

Even with things like salad and burrito bowls she Paula has shown how adding a little more of something and a little less of something else can make a big difference (pictured)

Even with things like salad and burrito bowls she Paula has shown how adding a little more of something and a little less of something else can make a big difference (pictured)

Paula has also illustrated how curries and stir fries can vary hugely (pictured: one of her meal comparisons, where she added more vegetables and took away rice and chicken)

Paula has also illustrated how curries and stir fries can vary hugely (pictured: one of her meal comparisons, where she added more vegetables and took away rice and chicken)

Paula showed two exampled of a steak lunch with a side of potatoes and salad but one had less than half the calories of the other, due to less meat and more green salad

Paula showed two exampled of a steak lunch with a side of potatoes and salad but one had less than half the calories of the other, due to less meat and more green salad

In another example, Paula made a spaghetti bolognese but substituted some spaghtetti for zoodles (courgette noodles) and used less beef and more vegetables in her sauce

In another example, Paula made a spaghetti bolognese but substituted some spaghtetti for zoodles (courgette noodles) and used less beef and more vegetables in her sauce

Commenters who saw the post were shocked by how much a meal can vary in calories.

‘Both dishes have the same volume of stuff – amazing,’ one woman said. 

‘This is so helpful, thank you so much,’ another added.

In one example, Paula cut the calories of her lunch by almost half by cutting down on the noodles and adding more vegetables

In one example, Paula cut the calories of her lunch by almost half by cutting down on the noodles and adding more vegetables 

Sharing a healthy dessert or breakfast of muesli, Paula managed to up the protein and lower the calories by adding more yoghurt and less muesli

Sharing a healthy dessert or breakfast of muesli, Paula managed to up the protein and lower the calories by adding more yoghurt and less muesli

Paula also shared how to cut down the calories in a simple steak and salad, by having less coucous and steak and more salad

Paula also shared how to cut down the calories in a simple steak and salad, by having less coucous and steak and more salad

And this isn’t the first comparison post the dietitian has made, either. 

Even with things like salad and burrito bowls she Paula has shown how adding a little more of something and a little less of something else can make a big difference.

‘Mexican chicken or burrito bowls came as a regular item in lots of your household when I asked a few days back,’ Paula captioned a recent post.

‘Again – while the ingredients are all healthy (except maybe for the mayo), this is to show how a lower or higher calorie version can be prepped by playing with the portions of ingredients. The volume of the meals are similar.’ 

Paula cut nearly 200 calories from this simple meat, potatoes and vegetable dish by adding more low calories green vegetables

Paula cut nearly 200 calories from this simple meat, potatoes and vegetable dish by adding more low calories green vegetables

Even with simple dishes like rice and veg, Paula cut down the calories by almost half by serving more vegetables and less rice

Even with simple dishes like rice and veg, Paula cut down the calories by almost half by serving more vegetables and less rice

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