Get Portion Distortion Under Control

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Portions vs. Servings

The difference between portion size and serving size can be a bit confusing. A serving is the standard unit of measuring a food, such as a cup or an ounce. A portion, on the other hand, is the amount of a food that you consume in one meal or snack.

Controlling Your Portion Sizes

Now that you know what a portion size is, it’s time to learn how to control the portions that you eat. Learning how to control your portion sizes is important because people often eat what is on their plate, even after they are already full. Follow these tips to help you prevent yourself from consuming more than you really need.

  • Use a smaller plate: The more food that is in front of you, the more likely you are to continue eating, even if you’re no longer hungry.
  • Wait 10 minutes before getting seconds: It takes about 10-15 minutes before your body can register that it is satiated. Your stomach may really be full before you realize it.
  • Eat meals slower: If you take your time while you eat, you will feel full sooner, before you overeat.
  • For snacks, divide a large package into individual bags as soon as you bring it home: This will automatically reduce your portion size if you are grabbing a snack from the cabinet. Eating from the larger container that it comes in will often cause you to eat more than you would if it was already in smaller portions.
  • Try eating everything off a plate: Seeing the amount of food on a plate will make it easier to see your portion sizes. When you eat from a bag or container, it may be harder to visualize exactly how much you’re eating.

Portion Control is in Your Hands

An easy way to keep track of your portion sizes is right in the palm of your hand. Your hand is a great tool for estimating the amount of food that you’re eating. This method is particularly useful if you do not have any measuring tools around.


Measuring Without a Cup

Although hand comparisons can be useful, they aren’t exact since everyone has different sized hands. These common objects are easy to find around the house and can be used to help measure portions as well, especially since they don’t vary in sizes.


References: The American Dietetic Association,, American Heart Association. Nutrition Education for June 2011. Produced by Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County by Rebecca Heller, a nutrition intern for Sherry Simon, R.D./L.D. For questions regarding nutritional information, please contact Sherry Simon, R.D./L.D., Director of Nutrition Services for Meals On Wheels, Inc. of Tarrant County at (817) 336-0912 or email: Website: 

Posted in Nutritional Education.

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