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Healthy and fit on the go: power of portions

Portion Power

Over the past several years, portion sizes have grown so that now consumers believe that larger portions are normal. For example, eight-ounce beverages sold today as “mini” are the same size that a regular soda was in the 1960s and ‘70s. Next time you’re at a restaurant, look at the size of the plate. Years ago, regular-sized dinner plates were 10 inches in diameter (about the size of a basketball), today they may be the size of serving platters! The way food is presented has a big impact on how much you eat. Use smaller plates, take only one serving portion, and follow the MyPlate guidelines by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Food environment:

How can you be more aware of the food you eat? It may surprise you to learn that you make over 200 food-related decisions each day. Many of these decisions are automatic or made from habit. If you want to make change in your eating habits, try some of the following tips to make it easier to eat the right amount of each kind of food:

  • Use smaller bowls, plates and glasses. You may be able to eat almost 50 percent less without even thinking about it!
  • Avoid eating directly from the package. Portion out servings into individual containers or bags and you will see the actual size serving you are eating.
  • Slow down when you eat. Take the time to put your food on a plate, sit at the table, and enjoy your food.
  • Don’t deny yourself the foods you enjoy eating – just eat the right portion size. If your favorites are high in fat, salt, or sugar, eat them as a treat in small quantities less often.
  • Keep treats and “junk” food hidden or covered. If you can’t see it, you won’t feel that you’re depriving yourself.

Real-life cues:

It can be difficult to estimate a portion size. Using another reference to estimate the portion size for foods on your plate can help to make sure you get the right amount of each kind of food your body needs.

1 ½ ounces of cheese is about the size of two dice or your entire thumb.

1 cup of potatoes, rice or pasta is the size of a tennis ball.

1 cup of broccoli or roast vegetables is about the size of a light bulb or your closed fist. 

1 ounce of nuts or small candies equals one handful. 

3 ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards.

A medium peach or apple is about the size of a baseball or closed fist.

Reviewed in 2020

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