What does a healthy portion look like?

Eating healthy portion sizes can help you to stay a healthy weight. Here are some examples of what a healthy portion size looks like for an average adult woman*.

Starches | Dairy | Protein-rich | Fruit & veg | Healthy snacks

Starchy food

Eat 3-4 portions a day. As with fruit and veg, starchy foods should comprise ⅓ of your daily diet. Choose wholegrain varieties where possible, eg wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice. Here are some examples of a portion of starchy foods:

  • 40g of cereal (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 2 slices of bread/toast
  • 1 bread roll or bagel
  • 5–6 new potatoes
  • 75g of uncooked rice or pasta
  • One medium baked potato (with skin).

What this looks like

1 portion of cereal is about 3 handfuls – that’s equivalent to 40g.

a portion of cereal

Try to avoid enormous baked potatoes – ideally you want one the size of your fist.

A baked potato


Dairy food

Eat 2–3 portions a day. Choose low-fat, unsweetened varieties where possible.

  • A 200ml glass of milk (or fortified soya, rice or oat milk)
  • A carton of yoghurt or fortified soya yoghurt (125-150g)
  • 30g of hard cheese (about the size of a matchbox)

What this looks like

1 portion of cheese is about the size of two thumbs.


Protein-rich food

Choose lean meat and aim for no more than three portions of red meat a week (about 350–500g cooked meat). Eat little, if any, processed meat, eg. bacon, ham and pepperoni

  • 60–90g of cooked meat (roughly the size of a pack of playing cards)
  • 140-195g uncooked white/oily fish (about half the size your hand)
  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 6 tablespoons of pulses (eg lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • 80g tofu, soya or other meat alternative (use the pack as a guide)

What this looks like

1 portion of fish – both meat and dish weigh less after cooking because they lose water, around 25% of the original weight.

1 portion is equivalent to 2 eggs (120g)


Fruit & veg

Eat at least 5 portions a day. In a typical day, fruit and vegetables should comprise about ⅓ of your diet. But what does that actually mean?

  • 1 medium fruit, such as an apple, orange, pear or banana
  • 2 smaller varieties of fruit, such as kiwis, satsumas or plums
  • 1 large slice of a larger fruit, such as pineapple, or two slices of melon
  • A handful of grapes or berries
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of peas, sweetcorn or carrots
  • A dessert bowl of salad
  • 150ml of fruit juice or vegetable juice
  • A heaped tablespoon 30g of dried fruits.

What this looks like

This is what 150ml of fruit juice looks like in a glass. Remember, fruit or vegetable juice can only count as one of your 5 A DAY.

Try to avoid eating dried fruit out of a packet – measure it with a spoon, or even weigh it to be sure. A heaped tablespoon (30g) is not as much as you think.


Snacks

Limit to 2 snacks a day, around 150 calories or less.

What this looks like

1 portion of nuts weighs 30g – about a handful.

2 oatcakes with a light spreading of low-fat soft cheese is 1 portion

> Download our 5 A DAY fruit and veg poster


* The number of portions you should have may vary depending on your age, gender and how active you are.