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Portion Control

Food Portion Size Matters.

2,000 calories per day is all most adults need to eat (children need even fewer), but you’re probably eating even more. With bigger food portions come more calories, and consuming extra calories can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. But a simple way to start being healthier is to choose to eat a little less. Choose Less. Weigh Less.



(Download a PDF of  Choose Less, Weigh Less portion control posters.)

Over the years, portion sizes have gotten bigger, and so have many of our waistlines! We also eat out more often, making us more likely to be exposed to large portion sizes at restaurants.

Growing Food Portions = A Growing Problem

Portion sizes in restaurants have grown. The average restaurant meal today is more than four times larger than in the 1950s. Portion sizes in our homes have grown. The surface area of the average dinner plate has increased 36% since 1960.

Choosing the Right Portion Size for Everyday Foods

Knowing the proper portion sizes for different foods can help you eat healthier and gain less weight. For more information, download our portion control tip sheet to learn simple, everyday actions you can take to maintain a healthy weight and choose the proper portion size when dining out or eating at home.

To view more videos showing the proper portion size for common foods such as chicken, tortilla chips, fish and popcorn visit our YouTube channel.

Time to Scale Back

Portion sizes have steadily increased over the past few decades. Hamburgers are three times bigger than they were in the 1950s. As portion sizes have gotten bigger, so have we. The average American man now weighs 28 pounds more than in the 1960s.

CDC Time to Scale Back

Tips for Choosing Less When Eating Out:

  • If you know you’re going out, look at the menu online so you can make healthy choices, or check out the menu board.
  • Get some extra exercise on the same day, perhaps a walk before or after you eat out.
  • Ask about half portions.
  • If you get a full entrée, box up half before you start eating.
  • Share your food with family or friends.
  • Start with a cup of soup or small salad.

Tips for Choosing Less When Eating at Home:

1. Dish up single portions. To minimize the temptation of second and third helpings when eating at home, dish up single portions on individual plates, and keep the serving dishes off the table.

2. Downsize to 10-inch plates, or use a salad plate. Shrinking your plate to 10 inches – versus a 12-inch or larger plate – can help you eat smaller portions.

3. Avoid mindless munching in front of the TV. Place a snack-size amount of food into a bowl or container, and leave the rest of the package out of sight.

4. Choose nutritious options when selecting a snack between meals. Eating a piece of fruit, a small salad or a small handful of nuts between meals can help prevent overeating during mealtime.

5. Get rid of the candy dish, or better yet, replace it with a fruit bowl. Place tempting foods like cookies, chips, or ice cream out of immediate eyesight, like on a high shelf or at the back of the freezer. Move healthy foods to the front at eye level.

6. Leave the “clean plate” club. Most of us eat everything we’re served, no matter how big the portion. Begin with a smaller portion, and leave leftovers for the next meal.

7. Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Indulge in naturally sweet foods to keep your sweet tooth at bay. Try a fresh fruit parfait mixed with low-fat yogurt. For a hot dessert, bake apples and top with cinnamon.

8. Sip smarter. Health experts recommend that we limit or eliminate sweetened beverages from our diet, and replace sugary drinks with water, unsweetened beverages or low-fat or non-fat milk.

RESOURCES – Click on these links to download PDF files.

Choose Less, Weigh Less Portion Control Tip Sheet

Addressing the Obesity Epidemic: Portion Size Matters Issue Brief

Enjoy Your Food but Eat Less – 10 Tips

For more information, visit our Eat Healthy Resources page.

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