What is a portion?

Choosing healthy foods is very important but the amount you eat is important too.

Even when you're eating healthily, it can be hard to know how much you should eat. The amount you need to eat will depend on different things, such as your weight at the start of your pregnancy and how active you are. If you're worried about what's healthy for you, talk to your midwife or doctor.


Small fresh fruit

One portion could be two or more small fruit, such as:

  • two plums
  • two satsumas
  • two kiwi fruit
  • three apricots
  • seven strawberries
  • 14 cherries.

Medium fresh fruit

One portion could be one piece of fruit, such as one apple, banana, pear, orange or nectarine.

Large fresh fruit

One portion is:

  • half a grapefruit
  • one slice of papaya
  • a 5cm slice of melon
  • one large slice of pineapple
  • two 5cm slices of mango.

What size should my meal be?

Meatballs in tomato sauce


This recipe makes 4 portions of about 180g.


300g beef mince

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder

1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large (400g) can chopped tomatoes

100ml water

Find out how to prepare this here.

Salmon couscous


This recipe makes 4 portions of about 225g.


1 large (420g) can red salmon, drained (about 350g when drained) (Buy fish from sustainable sources where possible.)

150g couscous

3 spring onions, finely sliced

300ml boiling water

1/2 lemon

1/4 medium cucumber, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh coriander, finely chopped

Find out how to prepare this here.

Tuna and tomato pasta


This recipe makes 4 portions of about 300g.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

11/2 large (400g) cans chopped tomatoes with herbs (total of 600g)

1 teaspoon sugar250g dried pasta shapes such as penne

11/2 cans (185g) tuna in spring water, drained (210g drained weight) (Buy fish from sustainable sources where possible.)

Find out how to prepare this here.

Managing portions away from the home

When choosing food away from the home it can be more difficult to manage portion sizes.  Often portions served in takeaways, restaurants and cafes are larger. This is tempting and likely to add extra calories to your day. Typically large portions are not the healthier foods!

When you’re choosing food out of home some things to think about include:

  • Share the main course and bulk it out with a side of vegetables or salad.
  • A starter size might be more than enough, again you can add a side of veg or salad if need be.
  • Ask about taking leftovers away. Many restaurants will give you leftovers to takeaway.  These can then be eaten another day (just remember to consider food safety if reheating.)
  • When buying ready meals or pre-packaged foods, look for the portion size indicator. 

 Download Your guide to a healthy diet in pregnancy here.


Read more

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  • Swap sweet drinks for water.

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    In pregnancy it's important to eat well. If you are used to eating foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat, you can make a few changes that will be good for you and your baby.

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    During pregnancy eating small more frequent meals can help with sickness. If you want a snack, there are lots of healthier options.

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    6 delicious dinner recipes

    These healthy pregnancy recipes are great for your main meal of the day, when you have a little more time to prepare, cook and eat food.

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    These meals are good for lunchtime, as they’re quick to make. Sandwiches and soups are great for taking to work, too.


  1. Thanks to Dr Helen Crawley from the First Steps Nutrition Trust for allowing us to use recipes from her guide Eating well for a healthy pregnancy.
  2. [1] Montpetit AE, et al. (2012). “Modelling the impact of prepregnancy BMI, physical activity and energy intake on gestational weigh gain, infant birth weight and postpartum weight retention.” Journal of physical activity and health 2012;9:1020-1029

  3. [1] NHS Choices (2013). “5 a day portion sizes.” NHS choices; accessed online at http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Portionsizes.aspx on 11.11.2014


  4. [1] Eating well for a healthy pregnancy: A practical guide (2014) (see http://www.firststepsnutrition.org/newpages/Pregnancy/pregnancy_practica...)?



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Last reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.

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