Understanding Portion Sizes

It can be really hard to tell if we are serving ourselves and our families the right amount of food. We have seen the size of food packages explode over the last 20 years. So how can we serve and eat smaller portions?

First, it is important to understand the difference between the serving size and a portion.

Portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time.

Serving Size is the amount of food listed on a product’s Nutrition Facts Label. The values you see on the Nutrition Facts Label are for the serving the manufacturer suggested. To learn more about the Nutrition Facts Label be sure to check out our “Reading Food Labels” page.

Knowing the difference between these two terms will help in figuring out how much to serve ourselves. You can use your hand to help you guide your portion sizes:

  • Your fist is about the size of a cup.
  • The palm of your hand is about the size of 3 ounces of meat.
  • Your thumb is the same size as 1 ounce of cheese.

To really be sure, size your hand up to a measuring cup. Here are a few tips to help you control your portions when eating at home:

  • To control your portions, it’s best to put foods on a plate rather than eating directly out of the box or bag. This allows you to see how much you are eating.
  • Try eating off smaller plates and drinking out of smaller cups.
  • Before you snack, ask yourself “Am I really hungry?”
  • Store any leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.