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Portion Control Tips

Portion Control Tips

Even if you choose healthy options, eating too much will increase your weight unless you are exercising enough to use food as energy. Think about the amount of energy (calories) you eat versus the amount you use as fuel (calories) for physical activity.

It is therefore important to keep an eye on your portion sizes. If you are feeling full after eating, it is likely you are eating too much. Consider this important fact:

“It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain to tell it that you are full”

Bearing this fact in mind, think about how fast you eat. If you are unsure, time yourself when you eat your main meal, is it less than 20 minutes? If so, you are eating too fast and you maybe overeating without realising – eating more slowly might therefore be a goal to work on this week.


How should my plate look at mealtimes?

Below represents a plate, try to aim for:

  • The largest portion to be your vegetable/salad (blue)
  • The second largest portion to be your starchy wholegrains eg brown rice, whole wheat pasta (orange)
  • The smallest portion to be your meat or protein (yellow)
  • If you are vegetarian or vegan, your plant proteins may overlap with wholegrain foods, aim to include a variety of protein rich plant-based foods

In addition to how fast you are eating, look at your portion sizes and try to aim towards the following portion sizes:

Starchy (carbohydrate foods):

  • A handful of porridge oats relates directly to your hand size because your hand matches your size of person you are. For example, a 6’4″ man will have hands that suit the size of his frame whilst a 5’6″ woman will have hands that suit the size of her frame
  • A portion of other starchy foods such as rice, grains and pasta is about 2-3 tablespoons
  • Remember to choose wholegrain varieties which include oats too


Protein rich foods:

  • The palm size and depth of your hand for lean meat or chicken
  • 2 boiled eggs, for lunch or evening
  • A small tin of beans or 3 heaped tablespoons
  • 10 level tablespoons of Quorn mince
  • Your palm size for tofu
  • 2 teaspoons of peanut butter
  • A small handful of plain nuts
  • A teaspoon of seeds for lunch and evening meal


Dairy foods and alternatives:

  • 2 tablespoons of low-fat cream cheese
  • An index finger of hard cheese (ideally reduced fat)
  • 4 tablespoons of low-fat natural yoghurt
  • One glass (200mls) of low-fat milk or enriched alternative


Fruit, vegetables and salads:

  • Aim for at least 3 tablespoons of a variety of vegetables with your meal (about 3 tablespoons of vegetables will contribute to one of your five portions)
  • About 3 large handfuls of salad (a bowl of mixed salad will contribute to one of your five portions a day)
  • A piece of fruit about the size of a medium apple counts as a portion of fruit a day, aim to have a couple of portions a day; swap a sugary snack for a piece of fruit.



The Healthy Employee
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