Nutrition -  What is a portion?

Tuesday 08 May 2018

Last week I talked again about trying to include 8-10 portions of fresh fruits and vegetables in the daily diet but, What is a portion? A question that I am so often asked and quite a difficult one to answer.  So I did a bit of research and according to the UK National Health Service Guidelines this is what they have to say. It is based on the needs of the average adult based on their nutritional needs and energy requirements.  It is of course a general guide only and even this is open to interpretation but it may help.

A guide to vegetable portions

Green leafy vegetables:2 broccoli spears, 8 cauliflower florets, 4 heaped tablespoons each  of, kale, spring greens and green beans.

Cooked vegetables 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas, spinach, chard or sweetcorn. 3 sticks celery, 5cm piece of cucumber, 1 medium tomato, 7 cherry tomatoes.

Pulses 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, butter beans, or lentils.

A guide to fruit portions

Small 2 or more for example, 2 plums, 2 satsumas, 3 apricots, 2 kiwi, 7 strawberries, 14 cherries, 6 lychees.

Medium 1 medium apple, banana, pear, orange, nectarine.

Large ½ grapefruit, 1 slice papaya, 1 slice melon, 1 large slice of pineapple, 2 slices of mango.

Preserved fruits from a jar or tin roughly the same as the fresh fruit equivalent but best this only if fresh fruit is not available and choose fruit preserved in fruit juice rather than syrup.

Juice a glass 150mls of 100% pressed fruit juice or smoothie counts as a portion,. It is worth noting that it contains no fibre and is a more concentrated source of sugar.

Dried fruit is 30g or 1 tablespoon of raisins, currants and sultanas. The larger fruits 2 figs, 3 prunes and a handful of dried banana chips.

Carbohydrate types of foods.

This is one portion although it is usual to have more than one portion at a meal according to your energy needs. The whole grain types are recommended as they will keep you full for longer and will help sustain an even blood sugar.

  • 3 tbsp of breakfast cereal
  • 1 slice of bread.
  • ½ baked potato.
  • 2 small boiled potatoes.
  • 3 tbsp of boiled pasta.
  • 2 tbsp of boiled rice.
  • 115g of cooked noodles.
  • ½ pita bread
  • ½ scone.
  • 3 small crackers.

Dairy foods and their alternatives.

  • 200mls of milk or milk alternative like rice milk, oatly milk or almond milk.
  • A small pot of yogurt (150mls)
  • 30g  hard cheese -the size of a matchbox.
  • 90g (about 2 tbsp) of cottage cheese.

Healthy fats

  • Any type of oil or coconut butter 1 tsp.
  • Oil based salad dressing 1 tbsp
  • Tahini and any nut butter 3 tsp.

Unsalted raw nuts and seeds  30g or  a small handful

Butter 1 tsp.

Protein foods

  • Lean meat, poultry or oily fish 150g (equivalent to the size of the palm of your hand)
  • White fish 180g (the size of your whole hand).
  • Tinned fish 80gr a small can.
  • Peas, beans and lentils ½ cup cooked.
  • Tofu 120g the palm of your hand
  • Eggs 100g 1 large or 2 small eggs.

Portion size and weight control
I do know from talking to people that portion size can be a problem especially if they are trying to lose weight. Many people eat well choosing healthy options but maybe eat too much at one sitting so this guide may help. It may be worth remembering that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that you have eaten and to send a message to the stomach that it is full so perhaps it may be worth trying, to eat the recommended portions sizes and then waiting 20 minutes before you decide to have a second helping or not. Many of us eat with our eyes and not our stomachs if you know what I mean. We can be quite full and then a delicious pud comes along and somehow we find room!!!

Blog originally written by Caroline October 2013

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