Serving and Portion Sizes

Don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach! Watching how much you eat can help you maintain a healthy weight.

Grandfather, father, and grandson eat a healthy meal togetherA “serving” is how much of each type of food you should eat to meet recommended daily nutrition requirements. A “portion” is how much of a single food is actually on your dish—it can vary from meal to meal. When eating your daily meals:

  • Stop eating when you are satisfied, not full. If there’s still food on your plate, save it for another time.
  • Use a smaller plate, bowl, or glass to help you eat and drink less.
  • Order an item from the menu instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
  • Skip the “super sizes.”
  • Share a restaurant entrée with a friend—or eat just half and take home the rest.
  • Read What’s On Your Plate?, the National Institute on Aging guide to healthy eating.
  • Visit to see how much to eat from each food group based on your age, sex, and physical activity level.

Picture a serving size with these examples:

  • 3 ounces of meat or poultry = a deck of cards
  • 1–1 1/2 ounces of hard cheese = four dice
  • 2 tablespoons of cream cheese = a golf ball
  • 1 cup of salad or cooked vegetables = a baseball
  • 3 ounces grilled/baked fish = checkbook

Quick Tip

Put leftovers in the fridge within 2 hours if not sooner. Then enjoy them the next day for lunch or dinner.

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