Pick the portion that’s best for you!

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that we reduce portions. Here are some tips to get started.

June 1, 2018 - Author: Dawn Earnesty, Michigan State University Extension

Are you struggling to maintain your weight? You may want to consider checking your portion control. A portion is different than a serving. A portion is the amount of food you put on your plate and consume in one eating occasion. It is not a standardized amount and can vary. A serving is a specific amount of food defined by common measurements, such as, cups or tablespoons. It is used to provide information about a food for dietary guidance. For example, the serving listed on the Nutrition Facts Label is the specific amount for one serving. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute provides an interactive quiz to test your knowledge of portions.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommends that we reduce portions, especially those of high-calorie foods.

Tips that may assist in reducing portions include:

  • Use smaller plates, bowls and cups.
  • Portion out small amounts of food.
  • To feel satisfied with fewer calories, replace large portions of high-calorie foods with lower-calorie foods, like vegetables and fruits.
  • When eating out, choose a smaller size option, such as, an appetizer on a small plate. There is convincing evidence that when smaller portion sizes are provided, less food is eaten.
  • Manage larger portions by sharing or taking home part of your meal. You can also freeze leftovers from large meals and use them at a later time.
  • Measure your portions that you are currently eating with measuring cups and spoons.
  • Don’t eat directly from containers or bags.
  • Be mindful of how much you are eating. Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer.
  • Eat slowly. Allow yourself to feel satisfied even if food is left on your plate.
  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables.
  • Reduce the portion of sugar-sweetened beverages by replacing them with water.

Setting goals may be helpful. An example of a goal could be:

  • I will measure my whole-grain cereal every morning for the next six of seven days so that I eat one cup of whole grains when I wake up.
  • I will use a lunch plate in place of the larger plate to balance my intake of food for all meals eaten at home during the next week.

Reducing portions may take some practice, but practice makes perfect! Maintaining a healthy weight requires being able to pick a portion that is within your nutritional daily needs.

Tags: msu extension, nutrition, weight management


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