Manage Portions to Manage Weight

Did you know items available at fast food restaurants are estimated to be 2 to 5 times larger than 2 decades ago?

Portion size in packaged foods and on plates in restaurants has increased dramatically in the past 40 years. While the side panel of a container may contain multiple servings, it is common to consume food by the package, bowl, or plate, not the serving size.  Research on portion sizes, packaging, and servings clearly indicate when more food is provided, more food is eaten.

Bigger portions lead to more food eaten which for many, leads to a bigger waistline.

To manage a healthy bodyweight for longevity and health, it is important to eat only enough for energy needs.

Becoming aware of portion size and learning how much your body really needs is a health lesson worth exploring.

The Difference Between Portion & Serving Size

Portion and serving sizes are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A portion is the total amount of food eaten at one sitting. A serving size is the recommended amount of one particular food.

This explains why the serving size listed on the label is not the recommended portion size. It is simply the amount of energy and nutrition in a quantity that most people consume.

The best way to manage portion control is to understand what a serving size is and know what it looks like.

managing portion size with friends eating drinking

How to Eat Healthy Portions in 2 Easy Steps

  1. Measure & Weigh
      • Measure and weight foods using tools like measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a food scale. Keep a running list of the foods you eat and the portion size. After about two weeks of measuring and weighing, you’ll have a really good idea of a serving size as well as a common portion for the foods you eaten most often.
  1. The Eyeball Method.
      • Using your hand as a guide, eyeball the amount of food based on the type of food.
          • 1 serving a protein – about the size of your palm
          • 1 serving of vegetables – as big as your fist
          • serving of carbs – about a cupped handful
          • serving of fat – the length of your thumb

In addition to eating portions, these lifestyle shifts will help keep bodyweight in check:

  1. Eat at home
  2. Use smaller plates and bowls
  3. Cover about half the plate with vegetables
  4. Eat less high calorie, sugary processed foods
  5. Eat more nutritionally rich low-calorie fruits and vegetables
  6. Sit at the table to eat.
  7. Make it a practice not to eat straight from the box, bag, or container
  8. When dining out, ask for a half-portion.
  9. When dining out, ask for a to-go container when the meal is served. Put half the meal in the container before you begin to eat.

Maintaining a healthy bodyweight is directly tied to the quality of the food eaten and the amount. When portion and serving size are under your control, bodyweight and overall health are too.



Information presented by W(h)ealth should not be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Consult a doctor and/or medical professional before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition.

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