Portion sizes – How much?

As portion sizes we’re mentioned recently in a post I thought I’d better elaborate  what exactly a ‘portion’ is. 

//We’re not purposefully trying to lose weight with this diet (as Ive mentioned before), we are however trying to develop a healthier and more balanced way of eating. So any weight lost is really a bonus. Oh and the cider in the photo is for recipe purposes only… honest. //

A brilliant example of how portions have changed over the years can be seen in the book the Joy of cooking first published in 1936. (image shown from the 1075 edition)

Since it was first published only 18 recipes remain in the book unaltered, others coming and going with trends, popularity and availability.

With each revising of the book (1946, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1997, and 2006) the portions and ingredient amounts were increase and/ or updated. Caloric content increased in 14 out of the 18 recipes by 43.7%. The average calories per serving also increased due not only to ingredients but also to portion size. This meant that in 17 out of 18 recipes there was now a calorie increase of 63% per serving.

For example a recipe that might have fed 8 in 1936 may only feed 4 to 6 now.

//Research and figures thanks to Durham University//

But what are the correct portions you and I should be using?

Starchy Foods

8 to 10 portions per day

I know how hard it can be to ween yourself of bread. One of our new goals is to bake more bread over the weeks, the reasoning there being if we bake it ourselves we’re much more concious of how much we’re eating… well thats the theory anyway.

The upper four on this picture (cereals, bread and potatoes) we’re far more likely during the 40’s, potatoes making up the bulk of meals and in baking. Although bread wasn’t rationed, it was controlled which meant ‘bread-o-holics’ like me had to sneak in their crafty carbs elsewhere. A swift chinese takeaway was out of the question as well.

Meat, Fish and other proteins

3 portions per day with at least one portion of oily fish per week

 //Just incase you were wondering these are adult portion sizes//

Our meat portions kind of works out naturally at a deck of cards portion each. (I suppose it was worked out that way intentionally)

With meat and eggs on ration, pulses on points and store baked beans just a glint in someones eye… fish

Now I must admit we’re not pulse people and obviously eggs were on ration. At the moment pulses have not made it into our diet (YET!) and I tend to use the eggs (6 free range per week) for baking. We’re (just me really) dying to try some powdered eggs but its so hard to find whole powdered eggs in the UK…. anyone know where i might find some?


3 portions per day

This is actually a section we have trouble with in our house… Milk is now on ration, 4 of us dont eat cheese, 2 of us dont eat yoghurt , and only 1 of us eats cottage cheese. The milk gets used for breakfast, tea and coffee, baking and thats about it. (20 pints per week) I really should encourage the children to drink it with their dinner etc [starts to scheme madly].

//During the second world war rationing, each mother was encouraged to make sure every child got their full portion of body building food… milk and cheese being 2 of them. //

Fruit and veg

at least 5 portions per day

We’re honestly not finding this as much of a problem as you would have thought.

Every dinner has a minimum of four vegetable portions per meal.

Fruit is a little bit harder, but considering we’re now baking with it (fresh and dried) its getting easier to meet the 5+ portions per day.

Hopefully next week I’ll be experimenting with jam (kinky :P) so theres another way of sneaking in a portion or so of fruit (or veg if i use carrots).


//These brilliant portion images are from Bupa.co.uk.//


2 responses to “Portion sizes – How much?

  1. Emergency Essentials sells whole egg powder at a fairly good price. I don’t know if you want to purchase outside of the UK. It is the only place I have seen it.

    I also wanted to say that I simply love your blog. I have been thinking of attempting a WWII eating plan & your blog is a great help in that direction.

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