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 (3 ounces) of meat, poultry, or fish (can also use the palm of a woman's hand or a computer mouse)
- A baseball = one serving (1 cup or 8 ounces) 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.
- Consider using smaller plates, bowls, or glasses.
- Never eat out of the bag or carton.
When in restaurants:
- Ask for half or smaller portions.
- Eyeball your appropriate portion, set the rest aside, and ask for a take out container before you eat.
- 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
6 tips for dining out without blowing your nutrition plan. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/eating-out/6-tips-for-dining-out-without-blowing-your-nutrition-plan. Updated January 27, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2015.
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 11, 2015.
Kausman R. Tips for long-term weight management. Aust Fam Physician. 2000;29(4):310-313.
Kesman RL, Ebbert JO, et al. Portion control for the treatment of obesity in the primary care setting. BMC Res Notes. 2011;4:346.
Sacks FM, Bray GA, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(9):859-873.
Weight management. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management.html. Accessed February 11, 2015.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2015 -
- Update Date: 02/11/2015 -