Families should use hands and spoons as a guide to portion sizes, health experts said yesterday.
The simple measurements eliminate the need for kitchen scales and reduce the risk of overeating.
The advice says a single portion of chicken breast, salmon fillet or steak should be about half the size of your hand. For pasta or rice it comes to two handfuls – before cooking.
And a baked potato should measure roughly the size of a fist.
The guidance was produced by the British Nutrition Foundation with help from a panel of experts.
‘More often than not, portion size is not something people give much thought to,’ said Bridget Benelam, nutrition scientist for the BNF.
‘The amount we put on our plate typically depends on the portion sizes we are used to consuming, how hungry we feel and how much is offered as a helping at a restaurant table or in a packet/ready meal. Nonetheless, in order to maintain a healthy weight we should ensure that our diets contain the right balance of foods, in sensible amounts. This isn’t just about eating less – it’s also about eating differently.’
Britain has one of the worst obesity problems in western Europe with a third of children overweight. The BNF said using hands to measure food – based on its Find Your Balance guide – should lead people to eat more healthily.
A portion of spaghetti should be able to fit within a circle matching the size of a £1 coin (3cm) and a portion of cheese about the size of two thumbs together. The guide also maps out smaller portions for snacks such as a handful of unsalted nuts or seeds and two tablespoons of low-fat houmous.
The suggestions from the BNF are in line with the Government’s Eatwell Guide, which says our diet should be made up of one third fruit and vegetables, one third starchy carbohydrates and the rest split between dairy and protein. The recommended daily calorie intake is 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women.