Right-Size Your Portion

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Portion control is a key factor in achieving a healthy weight. What’s the right portion size for meals? It’s not always the same as the serving size you may eat. Many of us are eating more than we need to satisfy hunger. In fact, most people do not correctly access what a normal portion is and the amount that we should be eating.

The continuing trends of super-sizing, huge portions, all-you-can-eat buffets and extra-large single servings have all contributed to our expanding waistlines. If you are eating out and looking for a bargain, you are apt to go for the larger portion in order to get more food for your buck.

Today, cookies average about 12% larger today than they were 12 years ago. The average portion size of meat served in a restaurant has doubled or even tripled. Once you order for a fast food burger, fries and a soft drink added up to about 600 calories. The same meal today may hold more than 1,500 calories. The average person should eat around 2,000 total calories per day.

What is a normal portion? Your hand can help you estimate several different serving sizes.

  • A palm full of nuts is about 1-ounce.
  • 3 ounces of cooked meat is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of playing cards.
  • 1 ounce of cheese is about the size of your thumb or two dice.
  • One slice of bread is one serving or one ounce.
  • Your fist is about the size of one cup or one ounce of cereal.

Use these strategies to right size your portions.

  • Measure your portions just to learn what normal portions look like on your plate.
  • Serve reasonable portions on individual plates rather than family style.
  • Don’t eat directly from containers or bags.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses.
  • Be mindful of how much you are eating.

If you want to know the amount of each food group you need daily go to MyPyramid.gov and enter your age, sex and activity level. It will give you a customized food guide on how much you should eat. Remember, specific health conditions may require a personalized dietary plan from a health care provider.

Review programs available from N.C. Cooperative Extension at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/F&N.html and on our Burke County website at http://burke.ces.ncsu.eduindex.php?page=healthnutrition

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences