Understanding portion sizes

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Making a meal the whole family will enjoy can take a lot of work, and what plate you put it on or measuring out portions might be the last thing on your mind.

However, portion sizes are really important when it comes to healthy eating.

A portion size is the amount of food a person eats. However, this may be bigger or smaller than the recommended portion size for that person’s age group.

How can I find the right portion size for me?

  • No one wants to measure out everything they eat, but if you do it a few times, it will give you an idea of the right size.
  • You can use your hand to help you measure portion sizes. Take a look at the British Heart Foundation guide to find out more.
  • Serve food straight onto plates rather than leaving a serving dish on the table – this will reduce the temptation for second helpings.
  • Use smaller plates and glasses, this will give the illusion of your plate looking full — but will help you to eat and drink a bit less.
  • Try to avoid watching TV during your meals.
  • Reduce your portions gradually, e.g. take away one spoonful at a time, rather than cutting right down — as this allows your stomach time to adjust.
  • Try to eat more slowly, for example putting down your fork in between bites or chewing each mouthful 20 times.

How to create a balanced plate

  1. Fruit and vegetables – try filling half of your plate with fruit and/or veg.
  2. Starch/carbohydrates – this could be pasta, potatoes, rice, noodles etc. Opt for brown/wholemeal varieties where you can.
  3. Protein – this can be meat, fish or a plant protein like beans, pulses or meat substitutes.

Our top tips

  • Main meals should have the right balance between starch, protein and veg. Think about what you need to add to your meals to make them balanced.
  • Watch your portions. The more you put on your plate, the more you’re likely to eat. Try using smaller plates and bowls.
  • Go for leaner cuts of meats.
  • Try to eat two portions of oily fish a week.
  • Opt for low-fat dairy products.
  • When it comes to butter, choose an oil spread such as olive oil.

18 September, 2023