Stage 3. A portion and calorie controlled balanced diet

The next stage is about paying more attention to how much you eat. Remember, recipe to lose weight you need to consumer fewer calories that you burn. But rather than count calories, use the portion guide for each food group to plan meals and snacks and ensure your diet stays balanced and portion – and calorie - controlled.

The amounts given will help most women and men lose around a pound a week (more if you are also more active, but not more than the healthy limit of 2lbs a week). The guide for women provides around 1500 calories, and for men (or very active women) it’s around 1900 calories

Food Group

Daily Portions





Breads, cereals, potatoes, rice, pasta



Meat, fish, eggs, pulses and nuts



Milk and dairy foods




At least 3

At least 3




Oil, dressings and spreads



Extras for snacks or drinks



Breads, potatoes, cereals, rice, pasta

1 portion equals:                    

  • Small bowl (about 3 heaped tablespoons) whole grain breakfast cereal or porridge
  • 1 medium slice of whole grain bread or mini pita or small tortilla                              
  • Half a medium pita, tortilla wrap or roll
  • 3 rye crisp breads or rice cakes or 2 oatcakes                                                        
  • 2 new or 1 medium potato, half jacket potato, or 6 oven chips        
  • 3 heaped tablespoons/half a cup of cooked pasta, egg noodles or couscous (25g uncooked)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons/third of a cup cooked rice or barley (25g uncooked)            
  • 3 heaped tablespoons beans, lentils or sweetcorn or 1 corn on the cob
  • 1 small slice malt loaf or 1 digestive biscuit or half a fruit scone

Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, pulses, seeds and nuts

1 portion equals:

  • 75g-100g/3-4oz of cooked lean beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey or oily fish (size of pack of cards)
  • 150g (6oz) of white fish (size of a cheque book), seafood or Quorn
  • 150g (6oz) of Bolognese sauce or chilli                                         
  • 2 eggs (keep to about 6 a week)                                                                 
  • 5 tablespoons of cooked beans, lentils, baked beans or tofu                                   
  • 35g (1.4)oz of nuts, seeds or nut butter or 75g (3)oz reduced fat houmous                               

Note: Uncooked weights for meat, poultry and fish will be 25-30 per cent bigger.


1 portion equals:

  • 3 heaped tablespoons of any type - fresh, frozen or canned            
  • Cereal bowl full of salad                                                                             
  • 1 medium or 7 cherry tomatoes or portion of low fat tomato sauce for pasta or on toast                  


1 portion equals:

  • 1 medium piece of fruit such as apple, orange, pear
  • 1 cupful of berries or grapes
  • 2 small fruit such as Satsuma¬ís, plums
  • 1 large slice of a large fruit such as melon or pineapple
  • 3 tablespoons of canned or stewed fruit in juice       
  • 150ml glass of unsweetened fruit juice                     
  • 1 tablespoon of dried fruit                                  

Milk and dairy foods                                                

1 portion equals:

  • 300ml (¬Ω pint) skimmed or 200ml (1/3 pint) semi skimmed milk or fortified Soya milk
  • Small pot of low fat natural or ¬ëlight¬í yoghurt, fromage frais or soya dessert
  • 30g cheese - size of a small matchbox                     
  • 50g (2oz) half fat soft cheese                             
  • 2 heaped tablespoons or small pot of cottage cheese                                                            

Oil, dressing and spreads                                                   

1 portion equals:

  • 1 teaspoon of oil, spread, margarine, butter or mayonnaise (size of small postage stamp)
  • 2 teaspoons of low fat spread or salad dressing                                                      
  • 1 tablespoon of single or soured cream or half fat cr√®me-fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons of fat-free dressings       

Extras - Snacks and Drinks - around 100 calories.  Here¬ís some ideas

  • Any two fruit servings
  • Small pot of ¬ëlight¬í yoghurt or one other dairy serving
  • 1 slice of wholegrain bread with low fat spread & yeast extract
  • 2 crisp bread with 50g/20z tuna or thinly spread peanut butter or half fat soft cheese
  • 1 crisp bread with 1 level tablespoon hummus
  • 25g/1oz nuts and raisins
  • 1 mini fruit bun, small cereal bar, mini chocolate bar or chocolate biscuit
  • Small bag of savoury snacks (around 100 calories)
  • Small glass of wine or half pint of beer or cider or 25ml liqueur

If you choose ready prepared items:

  • Ready made sandwiches or snack meals - choose one with around 300 calories
  • Ready meals - to have in place of a main meal. Choose meals with around 400 calories and serve with plenty of extra vegetables or salad. 


Have at least 6 to 8 drinks over the day.  Choose from: water, mineral water, sugar free squashes and soft drinks, herbal tea, tea or coffee with milk from exchange lists. 


Enhance the natural flavours of your cooking with herbs, spices, garlic, chilli, lemon or lime juice, flavoured vinegars, tomato puree, a well flavoured stock, a splash of wine, soya sauce, hot pepper sauce, teriyaki sauce, capers, a few olives and mustards.  


While the eating plan is well balanced, a one a day multivitamin and mineral supplement (which provides amounts close to the Recommended Daily Allowance) can be a good 'insurance policy' for eating plans with less than 1900 calories.

A suggested meal plan


Bowl of cereal & milk or 1-2 slices of toast

Piece of fruit or fruit juice

Cup of tea

Mid-am           Fresh fruit


Sandwich (2 slices wholemeal bread)

Cold meat/ cheese/egg


Fruit & yoghurt

Mid-afternoon.   Slice of malt loaf or 2 oatcakes


Meat/fish/chicken/vegetarian dish



Small scoop ice cream & fruit  

NB This is just one example and will vary according to individual tastes and dietary needs.