What size is a portion of food?

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 in pregnancy will depend on different things, such as how active you are. A 'portion' is the amount of any one type of food you eat. It is used when experts recommend how much you should eat. This is a guide to portion sizes.


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?

These pictures below have been taken from Eating well for a healthy pregnancy by The First Steps Nutrition Trust and they show you the size of main meal an average woman should eat. The cutlery is standard sized so it should give you a good sense of plate size.

Meatballs in tomato sauce


Find out how to prepare this here.

Salmon couscous


Find out how to prepare this here.

Tuna and tomato pasta


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

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  1. Thanks to Dr Helen Crawley from the First Steps Nutrition Trust for allowing us to use portion size images from her guide Eating well for a healthy pregnancy. Available here: http://www.firststepsnutrition.org/contact.html
  2. NHS Choices [accessed 22/06/2017]. 5 a day portion sizes. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Portionsizes.aspx (Page last reviewed: 12/12/2015, Next review due: 07/12/2018)

  3. First Steps Nutrition Trust (2017) Eating well for a healthy pregnancy: A practical guide, London, England 



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Last reviewed on June 22nd, 2017. Next review date June 22nd, 2020.

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