Portion Sizes and a balanced diet
Having a variety of foods across all food groups is important for health. We often talk about a healthy diet being one that is balanced but what does a balanced diet really mean? The Eatwell guide demonstrates all the food groups, in appropriate amounts to maintain health1. Nutritional requirements can be individual and portion sizes can be adjusted for depending on individual factors such as, physical activity level and age. This means using the Eatwell Guide as a suggestion and adjusting your portion sizes to suit your individual needs and lifestyle.
How much do we need of each food group per day?2
- 5+ fruits and vegetables
- 3-4 portions of starchy foods
- 2-3 portions of protein foods
- 2-3 portions of dairy or alternatives
- Small amounts of unsaturated fats (oils and spreads)
Portions of foods – What does a balanced diet look like?
Some foods are required in larger quantities than others and choosing foods from a variety of food groups, in the right quantity is important for providing the body with the nutrients it needs. The suggestions are based on the average healthy adult requiring 2000kcal of energy per day. Those who are more active may require larger portions to provide more nutrients to fuel their active lifestyle.
Portion examples for each food group:
|Food Group||Type of food||Portion size||Example|
|Fruits and vegetables||Apple/pear
Peas or carrots
|– 1 medium fruit/clenched fist size
-15-20 berries or cupped hands
-3 heaped tbsp
75g uncooked/150g cooked
50g uncooked/150g cooked
|One medium slice
2-3 tbsp cooked
|Protein||Beans or pulses
Plant based meat alternative
Nuts or nut butter
-size of a deck of cards
-Palm of hand
-1 tbsp or handful
|Dairy or alternative||Milk or plant based alternative
|200ml/ 1/3 pint
Small matchbox size piece
-3 tbsp or one standard pot
|Unsaturated Fats||Butter or spread
- A chilli served with 2-3 tbsp rice, made with beef mince and red kidney beans would include two portions of protein and one portion of starchy carbohydrates.
- Two Eggs on two slices of toast with a side of spinach and tomatoes would include two portions of starchy foods, one portion of protein and two portions of fruit/vegetables.
Love Your Gut recipes:
Get some inspiration – see our recipes here
- The Eatwell Guide, Public Health England https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide. Accessed in July 2022
- Get Portion Wise! British Nutrition Foundation, https://www.nutrition.org.uk/putting-it-into-practice/balancing-the-diet/get-portion-wise/ Accessed July 2022
- Portion Sizes: Food Fact Sheet, BDA https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/food-facts-portion-sizes.html Accessed in July 2022