Weight Management: Seven Ways to Size Up Your Servings
Learning to know servings sizes can help you judge how much you are eating. What’s the difference between portions and servings? A “portion” is how much you eat at a meal or snack. There is no standard portion size. A “serving” is a standard amount set by the US Government to advise you about how much to eat or to tell you how many calories and nutrients are in a food. The USDA Dietary Guidelines and the FDA Nutrition Facts panel on a food label show a “serving size”.
Use the pictures below as a guide to serving sizes
Putting Portions into Practice
Choosing sensible portions is the key to controlling your caloric intake and keeping your weight in a healthy range. Try these tips.
- Serve your food on a smaller plate, such as a salad or dessert plate.
- Take a standard serving out of the package and eat it off a plate instead of straight out of a large bag or box.
- Avoid eating in front of the TV or while busy with other activities. Pay attention to what you are eating and fully enjoy the smell and taste of your food.
- Eat slowly so your brain can get the message that your stomach is full. It takes 15 minutes for this message to get through, so give your body this time to give you the right message.
- Put a sensible portion on your plate at the start of the meal and for second helpings take more vegetables and fruits.
- When cooking in large batches, freeze food that you will not serve right away so you won’t be tempted to eat more. Freeze in single meal sized servings.
- Plate food up in the kitchen instead of putting serving bowls “family style” on the table.
- Measure portions of favorite foods once or twice, using standard measuring cups or spoons. Put these measured servings on your plate so you have a sense of what the portion looks like on your dishes. This way you will know how much you are eating compared to the recommended serving size.
- Us the My Plate to guide you with portions. See information at http://www.usdaplate.com/
- Share your meal with family or a friend.
- Order a half-portion or order an appetizer as a main meal. Some appetizers are large and meant to be shared or are fried or unhealthy choices, so choose carefully.
- Take half of your meal home. Ask for your half-meal to be boxed up before you begin eating so you will not be tempted to eat more than you need.
- Purchase single serving snack-sized packages or portion cups. Or for a cheaper alternative portion the package into single servings in bags so one portion is easy to grab.
- Eat three meals at regular times throughout the day. Skipping meals may lead to overeating at the next meal or snack.
- Quit the “clean plate club”. When you’ve eaten enough leave the rest.
Do you need help managing weight in relation to your other medical conditions? Would you like a program individualized to your lifestyle? Are you having difficulty knowing how to begin? Is it difficult for you to stay motivated? If you are a patient of UW Health we encourage you to meet with a registered dietitian at any of our locations. If you have questions or concerns please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below.
2880 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
UW Health West Clinic
451 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717
UW Health East Clinic
5249 East Terrace Drive
Madison, WI 53718
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/07/2012
Copyright © 12/16/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#401
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