Just How Much Food Is on That Plate? Understanding Portion Control
Serving Sizes Essential to Good Nutrition
Nutritional Needs Vary
Ways to Estimate Portion Sizes
- A deck of playing cards = one serving (three ounces) of meat, poultry, or fish (can also use the palm of a woman's hand or a computer mouse)
- A baseball = one serving (one cup) of pasta
- 4 stacked dice = one serving (1 1/2 ounces) of cheese
- A tennis ball = one serving (1/2 cup) of fresh fruit
When at home:
- Take time to eyeball the serving sizes of your favorite foods using some of the models listed above.
- Measure out single servings onto your plates and bowls, and remember what they look like. Figure out how many servings should make up your personal portion, depending on whether you need to lose, gain, or maintain weight.
- Avoid serving food family style. Serve up plates with appropriate portions in the kitchen, and do not go back for seconds.
- Never eat out of the bag or carton.
When in restaurants:
- Ask for half or smaller portions. Do not worry if it does not seem cost-effective; it is worth it.
- Eyeball your appropriate portion, set the rest aside, and ask for a doggie bag right away.
- If you order dessert, share it, or choose a healthier option like fruit.
Seek Dietary Guidance
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics http://www.eatright.org
US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate http://www.choosemyplate.gov
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca
Health Canada Food and Nutrition http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/index-eng.php
Are you practicing portion control? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442468864&terms=portion%20control. Accessed February 20, 2013.
Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. Accessed February 18, 2013.
Kausman R. Tips for long-term weight management. Aust Fam Physician. 2000;29(4):310-313.
Kesman RL, Ebbert JO, Harris KI, et al. Portion control for the treatment of obesity in the primary care setting. BMC Res Notes. 2011;4:346.
Portion distortion website: Learn how to avoid holiday weight gain by watching portion sizeshttp://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/press-releases/2004/portion-distortion-web-site-learn-how-to-avoid-holiday-weight-gain-by-watching-portion-sizes.html. Released November 18, 2004. Accessed February 20, 2013.
Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(9):859-873.
Tips for eating out. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6850. Updated November 2012. Accessed February 18, 2013.
Weight management & calories. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management.html. Accessed February 18, 2013.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 02/2013 -
- Update Date: 02/18/2013 -