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April 24, 2014

Our quick and easy guide to portion control

Our quick and easy guide to portion control Our quick and easy guide to portion control

Last updated: April 25, 2014

Lisa Carroll


Category: Weight management

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How much is too much? Our quick & easy guide to portion control will help you to understand the quantities you should be eating when it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Our quick and easy guide to portion control

How much is too much?

Portion control – what is it and why is it important? Portion control is understanding the energy content of foods and what a ‘serving’ of food equates to. Portion control is important in everyday life so you ensure you are getting the right foods, in the right quantities. By understanding portion control, you can keep your weight steady and healthy.

What your plate should look like…

If you have a look at the healthy eating plate, you will see the bulk of your meals should come from fruits and vegetables, and the other half made up in equal amounts of carbohydrates and proteins. Having spaghetti bolognese for dinner? Well, the mince and pasta will make up half of your meal, so the other half should come from vegetables or fruits. Calories are needed to fuel our bodies, however should you overindulge these calories may be stored as fats. By understanding portion control, you will better equip yourself to stay at a healthy weight range, and boost your energy levels.

Food portions 20 years ago compared to now

Supersized portions? It’s easy to cut down!

If you believe you might be having portions that are too large, it’s simple and easy to cut down. Most of us would finish off everything we have included on our plates, so it can be easy to overeat at meal times. Measuring out your food portions may seem tedious at first, however you will soon learn what a ‘serving’ of various foods looks like on your plates at home. Once learned, you will know what that portion size looks like for life!

Having smaller, regular meals will help you to stave off hunger all day. If you skip meals, you are therefore feeling hungrier when the next meal comes around, and this can lead to over-eating. Have leftovers? Portion control can be used with these too! By using smaller containers for food storage, you can ensure that you have the correct amount and avoid the temptation to over-eat. Be sure to keep hydrated all day with up to 8 glasses of water, as this too will help you to feel full up for longer.

So, what is a portion?

It can be difficult to figure out what constitutes one portion of the foods you have on a daily basis. I have tried to include, where possible, a visual cue to show what one portion of an average food looks like, approximately. The healthy eating plate will aid you in how many portions you should be having of each of the food groups daily.

Your foods

Size Matters! Here's your portion


Your foods

Size Matters! Here's your portion

Fruit   Protein
Apple Tennis ball   Red meat Deck of cards
Banana (small) Finger to thumb   Poultry Deck of cards
Orange Tennis ball   Fish Deck and 1/2 of cards
Mandarin 2 pieces   Nuts Fit snugly in palm
Kiwi 2 pieces   Beans 3 heaped tablespoons
Grapes Small handful   Grains
Strawberries Small handful   Pasta, Cereal, Rice Size of Golf ball
Dairy   Bread 1 slice
Cheese Size of matchbox   Bagel Half a bagel
Milk 1 small glass   Vegetables
Ice cream 1 scoop   Salad leaves Tennis ball
Cottage cheese Half a cup   Cooked/Raw veg Tennis ball

Fruit: 1 portion is about 80g

Vegetables: 1 portion is about 80g.Most vegetables are what we call free foods. You can have as much as you like, but this will not have an effect on your weight loss. The table below will show what one portion is, however you should fill half your plate up with lots of veggies.

Proteins: Are also classed into different portion groups depending on the protein

Grains: As all grains are different, there are different portion sizes for different grains

Dairy: Much the same as grains, there are different portion sizes for different types of dairy.
*Try to choose low fat versions where possible

Fats One serving is around 1 teaspoon, but again fats come in all shapes and sizes! Try to keep servings of butter to a teaspoon, or alternatively go for lower fat versions and use ‘light’ cooking sprays rather than lots of oil.

In conclusion

Whether you’re on a diet, looking to increase muscle mass for fitness or just want to stay healthy – portion control is paramount. By understanding what portion control is, and why it’s important, you can improve your health significantly. Eating the right foods in the right quantities will help you to keep at a healthy weight, boost your energy levels and ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.