Top Tips for Portion Control
Information on this page is from the British Heart Foundation.
Eating a healthy balanced diet isn’t just about eating the right foods, it is also about how much you eat.
It is important to eat the right amount of food – if your portion sizes are too large, your weight and blood sugar will be harder to control; it can also stop or slow down weight loss1.
This page will provide you with the information you need to understand how much of each food group you should be eating, what a portion looks like, a guide for how to get your portion sizes right and lastly some top tips for reducing your portion sizes if you are eating too much.
1. British Heart Foundation: Food Portions
Each day we should be eating a number of portions from each different food group. But how do you know how much to eat of each? Below, you’ll find the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) recommended daily portions. To find out exactly what different portions of food look like, visit their interactive guide.
Recommended daily portions (based on 1500 kcal for women, 1800 kcal for men)
Food group: Fruit and vegetables
- Women: 5+ portions
- Men: 5+ portions
Food group: Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and other starchy carbohydrates
- Women: 7 portions
- Men: 8 portions
Food group: Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
- Women: 2 portions
- Men: 3 portions
Food group: Dairy and alternatives
- Women: 3 portions
- Men: 3 portions
Food group: Oil and spreads
- Women: 1 portion
- Men: 2 portions
How to get your portion sizes right
The guide below is from the BHF. They have suggested that using your hand is an easy way to measure out food portions. This also means that the portions should be suitable to you.
Please see below for the British Heart Foundation’s top tips for portion control
A standard-sized portion will look small on a larger plate, making you feel dissatisfied. Use a smaller plate to prevent overloading.
If you already have some starchy carbohydrate with your meal, do you need bread, naan or chapatis as well? You could be doubling your portion, so if you like to have some bread on the side, you’ll need to cut down the amount of starchy carbohydrate on your plate accordingly.
Finding it difficult to gauge the right amount to eat? Try using measuring cups. You don’t need to have special cups, though; you could use any teacups, mugs or containers that work for you. It’s just a simple way of measuring the amount for you every time.
Finish your meal with fruit rather than chocolate cake. An apple will help to fill you up more than a couple of squares of chocolate, but both contain similar amounts of calories.
Wasting food certainly isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t mean you need to finish off everyone else’s portions. Avoid the temptation to polish off children’s or grandchildren’s meals or to nibble leftovers when there’s not quite enough for a whole portion.
If you find it happens regularly, get into the habit of cooking less or have a plan to use up leftovers in another meal.
Think you haven’t had enough? Wait for about 20 minutes before reaching for a second helping. It can take a little while for you to feel full after you have eaten. So avoid the temptation to keep eating and see if you get that feeling.
Make sure you know what portion the nutrition information on the front of pack relates to. It might be different to the amount you would normally serve yourself.
When you’re eating out, watch out for supersized portions. It’s easier to avoid temptation if the food isn’t on your plate to begin with, so say no to the bread basket and think about whether you need to have chips with your burger.