It is important to be aware of portion sizes as too much or too little of any type of food can increase our risk of health problems.
This is because the body may be getting too much or too little of what it needs to stay healthy. This Food Fact Sheet will provide an overview of recommended portion sizes of typical foods. As every person is different, the recommended number of portions for each food will vary, but this sheet provides a good place to get you started.
In this fact sheet:
- Carbohydrates – what is a portion?
- Dairy – what is a portion?
- Protein – what is a portion?
- Fruit and vegetables – what is a portion?
- Oils and spreads – what is a portion?
- Mixing food types and portions
- Download this information as a PDF
Carbohydrates – what is a portion?
|What is a portion?|
|1 medium slice of bread|
|Pasta (boiled) 2-3 tablespoons|
|Rice (boiled) 2-3 tablespoons|
|2 egg sized new potatoes (boiled)|
|1 medium baked potato (with skin)*|
|Breakfast cereal: 3 tablespoons|
|Porridge oats: 3 tablespoons|
* Potatoes do not contribute to one of your 5 a day, however sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do.
Choose wholegrains or higher fibre versions with less added fat, salt and sugar. For more information, see the BDA Food Factsheet on ‘Wholegrains’. Be mindful that the carbohydrate portions provided contain different amounts of carbohydrate and calories.
Dairy – what is a portion?
|Type of dairy food||Portion size in grams or mililitres (ml)||What does this look like?|
|Milk||200ml (1/3 pint)||1 glass|
|Calcium fortified soya alternatives||200ml (1/3 pint)||1 glass|
|Yoghurt||125g||1 standard pot/ 3 tbsp|
|Cheese (hard)||30g||A matchbox size piece|
Try to always choose lower fat and lower sugar options where possible.
Protein – what is a portion?
|Animal Protein||Amount in grams (g)|
|Cooked meat (beef/pork/ lamb/mince/chicken/turkey)||60g-90g|
|Cooked white fish (cod or plaice) or canned fish||140g|
|Cooked oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)||140g|
|4 tablespoons of baked beans||150g|
|4 tablespoons of beans (kidney beans/butterbeans/ black eyed beans||150g|
|4 tablespoons of pulses (lentils/chickpeas)||150g|
|4 tablespoons of soya/ tofu, vegetable based meat alternative||100g|
|1 tablespoon/handful of nuts or peanut butter||30g|
Eat more beans and pulses, and two portions of sustainably sourced fish per week, one of which is oily. Eat less red and processed meat.
Fruit and vegetables – what is a portion?
|What is a portion||Amount in grams (g)|
|A handful (10-12) grapes/ berries||80g|
|2 plums/apricots/kiwis/ satsumas||80g|
|1 small handful/ 1 tablespoon of dried fruit (eg. raisins or sultanas)||30g|
|3 heaped tablespoons of peas/carrots/sweetcorn/mixed vegetables||80g|
|1/2 pepper/1 medium tomato/ 1 medium parsnip||80g|
Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
Oils and spreads – what is a portion?
|Type of oil/spread||Amount in grams (g)|
|1 teaspoon of butter or spread||5g|
|1 teaspoon of oil||3g|
Keep to a minimum/small amounts of oils and spreads and measure out. Opt for unsaturated fats.
Mixing food types and portions
People will often have more than one portion of one food type at each meal.
Based on the portion sizes above:
- a sandwich with 2 slices of bread with 2 teaspoons of butter (1 on each slice) would be 2 portions of carbohydrates and 2 portions of fats
- a meal including meat or fish plus beans or pulses would be 2 portions of protein
- a meal containing broccoli and carrots would be 2 portions of vegetables.
The Eatwell Guide (above) shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
We also have Food Fact Sheets available on a range of topics including Weight Loss, Malnutrition, Alcohol, getting your 5-a day and general healthy eating as well as a range of medical conditions.
Download this information as a PDF
This Food Factsheet is a public service of The British Dietetic Association (BDA) intended for information only. It is not a substitute for proper medical diagnosis or dietary advice given by a dietitian.
If you need to see a dietitian, visit your GP for a referral or a private dietitian.
Written by Sammie Gill, Dietitian. Reviewed by Sian Porter and Lucy Turnbull, Dietitians.
© BDA September 2016. Review date September 2019.