Meal size matters with plates of spaghetti in large and small portions.

Size Matters When It Comes To Food Portions

Don’t sabotage your healthy eating

You’ve made an important decision to eat healthier and make better choices when it comes to the foods you eat. That’s great but let’s be certain it is combined with knowing your portion sizes. In the photo above, on the left, you see what most people would put on their plate as a serving, that is way more than one serving. In the photo on the right you see a proper serving size. We are living in a “supersize it” world, where more food is pushed at you all of the time. We have also gotten ourselves into the bad habit of filling our plates and not paying any attention to how much we should be eating.

Time to learn new habits

The first argument that is going to be made about the smaller portion size above is that it is not enough food and it will never keep you full, therefore, you’ll be looking for more to eat. That is probably true.  Like most things, we’ve trained our bodies to accept larger portions to be satisfied. Now it is time to retrain our bodies to survive on smaller portions. In order to do that we first need to know what a portion is for various foods. The American Heart Association has established the guidelines below.

Examples of one serving of each type of food


  • 2 cups raw leafy salad greens
  • 1 cup cut vegetables
  • 1 cup 100% vegetable juice, low-sodium or no-salt-added


  • One medium whole fruit
  • 1 cup cut fruit
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice
  • ½ cup dried fruit

Whole Grains (carbs)

  • One slice bread
  • One small tortilla
  • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes
  • 1 ounce (⅛ cup) uncooked pasta or rice
  • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cereal
  • 3 cups popped popcorn


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 ounce cheese

Protein Foods

  • 1/4 cup cooked beans, peas or lentils
  • 1/4 cup or 2 ounces tofu
  • 1/2 ounce nuts or seeds or 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 ounce cooked seafood, meat or poultry
  • One egg or two egg whites

Fats and Oil

  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola, corn, olive, soybean, safflower)
  • 1 tablespoon soft margarine
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon light salad dressing

Take the time to measure

Yes, you really do need to measure, at least for a while until you have a better eye about how much is a proper portion. The good news is that you have everything you need right in your hands, literally your hands. Watch this minute-long video explaining how to use your hands as a tool to measure your portions.

We all know eating healthy food is an important part of being healthy BEFORE we NEED to be healthy.  However, if we do not pay attention to the portions we are eating, we may take one step forward but two steps back.

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