What’s a portion?

You may be asking yourself – as I often have – what actually constitutes a ‘portion’, say when you’re told to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. Here is the explanation (oh, and a cup is 250ml):-

  • Fruit – the size of a large apple; or ½ cup fresh fruit; or ¼ cup dried fruit.
  • Vegetables – your clenched fist is a good rule of thumb. It’s equivalent to a generous ½ cup cooked or raw vegetables; or 1 cup salad greens.
  • Grains – 1 slice bread; or ½ cup cooked pasta, rice or another grain.
  • Potato – a light-bulb size (the old ones, not the energy saving…)
  • Nuts – ¼ cup, about 2-3 flat tablespoons
  • Beans and lentils – ½ cup cooked
  • Fish – a cheque book (or an acceptgiro form without the slip on the side, for the Dutch amongst us). About 120g cooked.
  • Cheese – a small matchbox
  • Meat – a pack of playing cards

It’s a good idea to err in the direction of smaller portions. Research shows that the longest living people on earth eat on average 1,800 calories per day. That’s 15% less than the recommended daily calorie intake for women (2,000 kCal) and a whopping 40% (!) less than the recommended daily calorie intake for men (2,500 kCal). In short, eat less = live longer.

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