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.
Carbohydrates – what is a portion?
|One medium slice of bread|
|Pasta (boiled) two to three tablespoons|
|Rice (boiled) two to three tbsp|
|Two egg sized new potatoes (boiled)|
|One medium baked potato (with skin)*|
|Breakfast cereal: three tbsp|
|Porridge oats: three tbsp|
* Potatoes do not contribute to one of your 5-a-day, however sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do.
TOP TIP: 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)||One glass|
|Calcium fortified soya alternatives||200ml (1/3 pint)||One glass|
|Yoghurt||125g||One standard pot/three tablespoons|
|Cheese (hard)||30g||A matchbox size piece|
TOP TIP: Try to always choose lower fat and lower sugar options where possible.
Protein – what is a portion?
|Animal Protein||Amount in grams (g)||What does this look like?|
|Cooked meat (beef/pork/lamb/mince/chicken/turkey)||60g-90g||A deck of cards|
|Cooked white fish (cod or plaice) or canned fish||140g||Palm of hand|
|Cooked oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)||140g||Palm of hand|
|Plant Protein||Amount in grams (g)|
|Four tablespoons of baked beans||150g|
|Four tbsp of beans (kidney beans/butterbeans/black eyed beans||150g|
|Four tbsp of pulses (lentils/chickpeas)||150g|
|Four tbsp of soya/tofu, vegetable based meat alternative||100g|
|One tbsp/handful of nuts or peanut butter||30|
TOP TIP: 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|
|A small handful/one tablespoon of dried fruit (eg. raisins or sultanas)||30g|
|Three heaped tbsp of peas/carrots/sweetcorn/mixed vegetables||80g|
|1/2 pepper/a medium tomato/a medium parsnip||80g|
TOP TIP: 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)|
|One teaspoon of butter or spread||5g|
|One tsp of oil||3g|
TOP TIP: 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 two slices of bread with two teaspoons of butter (one on each slice) would be two portions of carbohydrates and two portions of fats
- a meal including meat or fish plus beans or pulses would be two portions of protein
- a meal containing broccoli and carrots would be two 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. You can find more information about the guide here.