Serving & Portion Size

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The key to healthy and delicious eating is to watch your portions. This can be a challenge with food portions that seem to be “super-sized” in every way. Try these quick and easy ways to eat less and enjoy more taste and nutrition in every bite.

  • Listen to your body’s cues: Your internal signals of hunger and satisfaction can help you eat right, if you listen to them.
  • Eat half, wait 20 minutes: When you wait (and listen to internal cues), you may find you are satisfied with smaller portions.
  • Try this! If you are used to eating a whole sub sandwich at lunch, just eat half and supplement your meal with raw veggies on the side and finish off with some fresh fruit.
  • Prepare less food for meals: Large amounts of food make people eat more. Put leftovers away right away. 
  • Start with a small serving: Small servings may be all you need and you can always have more if you are still hungry.
  • Use small dishes and glasses: It really works. Smaller plates and taller, thinner glasses make you think that you are getting more with less.
  • Packaging can be friend or foe: If you have trouble stopping eating certain foods, don’t buy large amounts of these foods. Buy individual snack size bags or put into single serving snack bags as soon as you get them home from the store.
  • Savor your meal: Eating slowly enhances enjoyment of food and gives your brain time to let you know you’re full.
  • Downsize when eating out: Many meals out are two to four times larger than you need.
    • Many restaurants offer lunch size portions of their dishes, which are smaller than their full-size dinner entrees. Ask if you can buy the lunch size entree at dinner time or order from the child’s menu.
    • Order an appetizer or side-dish instead of an entrée.
  • Always go for the small size: At fast-food restaurants order small or regular items (drinks, burgers and fries) or you can even order a kid’s meal.
  • Sharing is good: Sharing meals when eating out is a great way to save money and calories too.
  • Take some home: Ask your server to put half your meal into a “to-go” container right away, or to bring a box to the table.
  • Eat regular meals and snacks: When you plan regular meals and snacks, it’s easier to be satisfied with smaller portions each time.

Comparing your serving sizes to everyday objects makes it easier to keep tabs on how much you eat.

  • ½ cup fruit, vegetables, cooked cereal, pasta or rice = a small fist or rounded handful
  • ¼ cup dried fruit, nuts, and seeds = large egg or golf ball
  • 1 small baked potato = a computer mouse
  • 1 ounce pretzels or snack food = Rounded handful
  • 3 ounces cooked meat or poultry = a deck of cards
  • 3 ounces fish = checkbook
  • 1 teaspoon margarine, butter, spreads = 1 die
  • 1 tablespoon of margarine, mayonnaise, butter, oils = a thumb tip
  • 1 tortilla = a small salad plate (7-inch)
  • 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese (like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Swiss) = 9 volt battery
  • one-half bagel = the width of a large coffee-to-go lid
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter = a golf ball
  • 1 muffin = a large egg
  • 4 small cookies such as vanilla wafers = 4 casino chips
  • 1 pancake or waffle = a 4-inch CD
  • 1 medium apple or orange, green salad, frozen yogurt, baked potato = a baseball

Portion Size Explosion

Today’s 6-inch bagel has 350 calories. This is 210 more calories than a 3-inch bagel 20 years ago.

  • If you rake leaves for 50 minutes you will burn approximately 210 calories.

Today’s fast food cheeseburger has 590 calories.This is 257 more calories than a portion 20 years ago.

  • If you lift weights for 1 hour and 30 minutes, you will burn approximately 257 calories.

Today’s 6.9-ounce portion of French fries has 610 calories. This is 400 more calories than a 2.4 oz portion 20 years ago.

  • If you walk leisurely for 1 hour and 10 minutes, you will burn approximately 400 calories.

This post was last updated on February 11th, 2021 at 9:09 AM

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