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How big is one portion of food?

How big is one portion of food?

It is becoming clear that many of us have lost sight of the size of a reasonable portion of food. This goes a long way to explaining the rising obesity rates, and the recent panic at the idea of eating more vegetables and fruit.

Research for the British Heart Foundation found that many ‘single-serve’ portion sizes have increased hugely in the last twenty years. As a result many of us are eating too much, as well as serving up too much at home.

So what are the correct portion sizes for adults?

For fruit: a portion is medium-sized piece, such as a banana or apple. It can also be an equivalent amount of smaller fruits such as grapes or satsumas. Go very easy on dried fruit – each of those dried apples is still a whole apple! Only one serving a day should be juice or a smoothie. Steer clear of commercial smoothies which are very high in sugar.

For vegetables: a portion is about three heaped tablespoons of the vegetable. It does not matter too much whether the vegetable is frozen, tinned or fresh. Note that potatoes count as carbohydrate - so sadly that means that chips are not vegetables!

For grains: a handful of dry pasta or rice is plenty. This guideline also works for a child, measure the food with their hand.

For meat: a piece about the size of a pack of cards is the right size.

As for that five or seven a day: a healthy stir-fry with three or four vegetables will get you to most of your target in just one meal.  Add a banana for breakfast, a mid-morning apple and some salad with lunch and the job is done. Bon appetit!

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