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Healthy Eating: An Easy Guide To Portion Control

Most of us don’t know what an appropriate portion should look like and, following today’s article in the BBC, we’re under-reporting the amount of calories we eat by almost one-third. Apart from the 80g portion of fruit and vegetables we should eat a day, there are no official UK guidelines on portion sizes. With this in mind, here is my easy guide for understanding portion sizes and it’s based on a simple tool – your hand!

1) Carbohydrates

When it comes to starchy carbohydrate foods including potatoes, uncooked rice or pasta, a healthy serving should be equal to the size of your fist. A chapatti, pitta, naan or large slice of bread should equate to your outstretched hand and cereal should be the serving of a cupped hand.

For a serving of vegetables, you should aim for a minimum of two cupped hands, although more is even better. If you’re feeling hungry at meal times, eating a large portion of vegetables is an excellent choice as, not only are they packed full of vitamins and minerals, they’re also full of fibre which will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

3) Meat

Use the palm of your hand as a measure for eating meat. Remember lean meats such as chicken and turkey are lower in saturated fat and calories and are good options if you’re trying to lose weight. For red meat, trim off any access fat you can see and limit your intake to once a week. Processed meats such as bacon, sausages or burgers should only be eaten as a treat, as they’re high in saturated fat.

4) Fish

Sustainably sourced white and oily fish should be the size of your whole hand and you should aim to eat oily fish once a week. Rich in omega – 3, oily fish is great for heart health and supports healthy development of your baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Examples of oily fish include mackerel, trout, herring and sardines.

5) Fruit and Nuts

Healthy snacks between meals such as fruit should equate to the size of your fist. If you’re eating dried fruit, it’s important to remember the portion is a small handful. Nuts are packed with healthy oils, protein and fibre and are an excellent choice as a snack. As they are high in calories, be mindful of portion size. You should aim for a small handful.

6) Dips, Spreads & Oils

Use the tip of your thumb (from knuckle to nail) for high calorie fat foods such as butter, oil or mayonnaise. The length and depth of two thumbs should be the guide for high protein option such as cheese.

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