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Portion Sizes

This is the second in our short series of nutritional blogs, our first covered cooking methods and how this can alter the quality and health benefits of the food itself. If you haven't read this blog, please do so first here.

Our aim isn't to go into huge detail and overwhelm you with scientific facts and figures around nutrition, but instead to give you some basic advice to enable you to make healthy choices when possible. This blog is around portion sizes, and recognising if you are eating more than recommended.

When did you last eat in a local pub offering "two for one" deals? You know the type, huge menu of choices with all the pub favourites, generally for less than a tenner each. Have you noticed how the portion sizes are getting bigger? They have increased by almost 40% in the last 10yrs, but because it's such a great offer and we're out enjoying ourselves, it's very easy to over indulge.

Eating the right amount of food goes hand in hand with having a balanced diet. Often, if you’re struggling to lose weight or shift those last few pounds, your portion sizes could be the reason why.

So, how much should we be eating?

Eatwell Plate

The guideline daily amount of calories is 2,000Kcal for women and 2,500Kcal for men, based on the estimated average energy requirements from UK government guidelines on nutrition.

However, these are just guidelines and it’s important to recognise that, in reality, there’s no such thing as an energy requirement that will suit everyone.

How many calories you need varies depending on your weight, gender and how active you are, as well as on your state of health. It’s also important to recognise that your energy requirements will change; many people find they gain weight when they retire, for example, and this can be because of a change in activity levels compared with when they were working.

The NHS recommend that every day, a healthy adult should eat:

  • 5 or more portions or fruit and vegetables (eg: 1 portion is about equal to either 1 apple, pear or banana or 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked carrots, peas or sweetcorn)

  • 3 -4 servings of potato, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates. (eg: 2 slices of bread or a medium sized jacket potato)

  • 2-3 servings of fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (eg: 90g of cooked meat about the size of a deck of cards)

  • 3 servings of dairy and alternatives (eg: 250ml of semi-skimmed milk or some cheese about the sizes of a small box of matches)

  • 2 -3 servings of unsaturated oils and spreads (eg: 1 teaspoon of olice oil or sunflower oil)

  • 6-8 drinks a day of water, low-fat milk, sugar free drinks, including tea and coffee all count. (Limit fruit juice and smoothies to 150ml a day)

How does this compare to your daily intake?

They also suggest that foods and drinks high in sugar and fat should be eaten less often. Snacks should be limited to 2 -3 a day with each snack no more than 120kcal

Here is a link to a really useful NHS page containing more examples of portion sizes and food types


  1. Try to eat regularly, and have 3 meals a day. Eating at regular times will help to keep you alert and full of energy and also stop you from snacking and choosing the unhealthy option

  2. Carry some fruit with you to work. You're more likely to eat it if you know that if you don't, it will go off and start to smell in your bag!

  3. Avoid white foods where possible (with the exception of cauliflower). eg: instead of white bread, try brown. Instead of brown bread try 'half and half'. Instead of 'half and half' bread, try wholegrain etc

  4. Try grating fresh cauliflower and try using this instead of white rice in a curry or instead of potato on a cottage pie! You may be pleasantly surprised!

  5. Eat green! The darker green, the better!

Hopefully this has given you a quick understanding of portion sizes. Check out the links above for more information from the NHS and our next blog will be covering the different food types, such as protein, carbs and fats.

Ass always, any questions, please let us know. If you're enjoying these blogs or finding them useful, please comment below as it helps others find them.

See you in the park!

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