Skip to main content

Portion sizes

When it comes to working out how much food to serve, size really does matter and yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Watching your portion size is a key factor in helping to prevent weight gain.

How much should I eat?

what is an average portion size?

Using your hand can be an easy way to check the size of your food portions on your plate. 

There are differences between the size of our hands and they can be used a rough guide to help you know how much to cook and serve. When serving up for someone else, use the size of their hand.

If you’re looking to reduce portion sizes it’s a good idea to initially focus on eating less processed food, which is high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat.

Then move on to the meat, carbohydrate and cheese components of a meal. If you’re afraid your plate will look a little empty, why not fill it with more vegetables. These can be low cost if bought in season and should be eaten in larger quantities than other foods.

It can be very easy to over serve, and therefore overeat, especially when you are hungry! Use these tips to help you serve up healthy portions of the following food types:

How many vegetables and fruit can I eat?

Your two hands cupped together is a good guide for the portion of non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, beetroot, cauliflower or eggplant. Tip – choose vegetables from all the colours of the rainbow. Each colour provides a different range of nutrients. Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit are great options too.

How many grain foods and starchy vegetables can I eat?

A closed fist is a good guide for a portion of starchy carbohydrate foods like taro, potato, kumara, rice, pasta and bread. Tip – if you want more than one carbohydrate in your meal, reduce the size of each one, so the total is the size of one fist.

How many legumes can I eat?

A closed fist is a good guide for a portion of legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils or beans. Tip – Frozen, canned and dried legumes are great options too.

How much fish can I eat?

The whole of your hand is a good guide for a portion of fish (instead of meat in your meal). Tip – Your whole hand is about the size of one fish fillet.

How much meat can I eat?

The palm of your hand is a good guide for a portion of red meat or chicken. Tip – The thickness of the meat should be about the same thickness as the palm of your hand.

Guide to working out portion sizes

Get the Food Portions poster

How can I reduce my weight?