Portioning 101: How to Properly Judge Food Portions, According to Experts
Eating healthy is great, but if you’re not portioning your meals properly, it doesn’t matter how healthy your plate appears. Everyone’s body needs a different amount of food - it’s not about eating less, it’s about eating in a way that is best suited for you. Balance is key when it comes to eating right, and that includes being able to portion your food properly.
Generally, when we eat, we’re not thinking about portion sizes. We eat according to what we usually have, how hungry we feel and how much is packed or on our plate. But maintaining a balanced, healthy diet is more than just eating the right foods - it’s about eating the right amounts, too.
To figure out proper food portions, you don’t need a set of scales or any in-depth knowledge. British nutrition scientists have devised a new way of measuring out food portions using your hands, thumbs and fists.
Measuring Portion Sizes
There are a lot of different ways to incorporate a healthy diet in your life - from the Mediterranean diet, to a vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan one; from a whole30 or ketogenic diet, to just eating more fruits and vegetables every day. Portioning is all about balancing your food groups and discovering the right portion sizes of your favorite foods.
The following portion sizes are judged on a standard, 2,000 calorie daily allowance. This is the amount estimated for an average, healthy weight adult woman. If you’re tall, or very active, adjust your sizes accordingly - you may need more. If you’re small or you want to lose weight, you may want to make your portion sizes a little smaller.
By using your hands to measure out portion sizes, portions will naturally vary depending on hand size. This way of measuring portions works well because generally, bigger people get bigger portions and smaller people get smaller ones, accordingly.
nutrition scientists recommended the following portions from each food group:
Fruits and veggies: 5+ portions/day
Starchy carbohydrates: 3-4 portions/day
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins: 2-3 portions/day
Dairy and alternatives: 2-3 portions/day
Use Your Hands to Measure Portions
In order to portion out your food, use your hands and spoons to measure out sensible portion sizes. Below, we provide some example measurements to give you an idea of how this works:
2 handfuls of dried pasta shapes or rice (75g)
Enough cooker pasta/rice that fits in two hands cupped together (180g)
Baked potato the size of your fist (220g)
3 handfuls of breakfast cereal (40g)
A piece of grilled chicken breast half the size of your hand (120g)
A piece of cheddar cheese the size of two thumbs together (30g)
1 tablespoon of peanut butter (20g)
3 teaspoons of soft cheese (30g)
If you struggle with proper portion sizes, you are not alone! It can be very hard to judge, especially in the moment when your stomach is screaming, “I’m hungry!” Use the guide above to help portion your food and get the most out of the foods you love.