Dylan Bowe | Last Updated – 30/12/2023 | 4 Minute Read
Portion control is a fundamental aspect of dietary management that plays a huge role in
achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. This brief guide will discuss the importance of
portion control, and what portion sizes may look like. Your body needs a lot of different
nutrients in varying amounts to stay healthy, and the food pyramid can be used as a simple
guide to eating healthier and portion control of different foods. In the long term, a healthy,
balanced diet can reduce our risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic
The significance of portion control
- Calorie balance: portion control helps manage your calorie intake, preventing
overeating and helping to ensure a balance between energy intake and expenditure.
By maintaining a calorie balance, you can manage your weight or facilitate weight
loss when combined with a calorie deficit. An easy way to introduce a calorie deficit
through portion control could be increasing the amount of low calorie, high volume
foods such as fruits and vegetables, increasing portions of wholegrain breads, pastas
or rice, or increasing lean protein. These changes will increase food satiety, while
decreasing calorie intake.
- Blood sugar regulation: controlled portions help regulate your blood sugar levels,
preventing rapid spikes and crashes, which promotes sustained energy levels and
will reduce the chances of overeating due to hunger.
- Metabolic health: a balanced portion of nutrients in each meal can contribute to
improve insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and developing
metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
- Digestive health: smaller or more balance portions can support optimal digestion,
preventing discomfort, bloating and indigestion that is often associated with larger
As you can see from the image, the base of your meals should come from nutrient dense
fruits and vegetables, aiming for 5-7 servings per day. This will increase not only your intake of micronutrients but also your fibre intake. It is then recommended to have 3-5 servings of
wholemeal or wholegrain cereals each day, such as wholegrain bread, potatoes, brown rice
or pasta. 3 servings of dairy per day, along with 2 servings of meat per day will support your
fat and protein intake.
It is important to note that these are guidelines, and research shows that something like the Mediterranean diet can also educe the risk of heart disease and diabetes, along with improving mental and physical function. This way of eating consists of an abundance of plants, olive oil as a main fat source, consuming fish and poultry a few times a week, cheese and yogurt consumed daily in low to moderate amounts and minimising red meat intake.
Now that I have discussed what types of foods to consume and serving amounts, let’s take a
brief look at portion sizes according to the HSE.
Vegetables and fruit:
- 1 portion = 80g.
- 1 medium sized fruit/2 small fruits/1 bowl of salad vegetables/150ml unsweetened fruit juice
Cereals and breads/starches:
- 1 tortilla wrap
- 40g dry porridge pats
- 45g breakfast cereal
- 120g cooked rice
- 100g cooked pasta/noodles/couscous
- 2 medium potatoes (200g)
Milk and dairy:
- 200ml milk (glass)
- 25g cheese (two thumbs)
- 125g yogurt
Meat and poultry:
- Palm sized amounts
Utilising portion control is a simple, straightforward way of managing your weight. It may be
useful to weigh some foods to understand the amounts you should be consuming, and over
time you will learn what a portion of food will look like in a bowl, plate or glass.
Focusing on plants, fibre and protein intake while minimising saturated fat and highly processed foods
will improve many health outcomes and often these principles will help people lose weight
without conscious effort. As time goes on, you can adjust portions depending on calorie
balance in order to reach a healthy weight. If you feel like this is something you’d like
guidance on, feel free to reach out to our team and we can help you achieve your goals.