Portion sizes: What amount is ‘right’?

Eat out at any restaurant and you’ll likely notice food portions are quite large. In fact, trying to figure out a correct serving size can be confusing. Some portions are called “super-size,” while others have simply grown in size and provide enough food for at least two people. Even the kids menu can be misleading as kid-sized food and drinks often vary in sizes.

A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat for a meal or a snack. To help determine how much food and drink is enough for your kids, it helps to understand the nutritional value. Many foods that come as a single portion actually have multiple servings. The Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods—found on the backs of cans, sides of boxes, etc. — tells you the number of servings in the container.

It is important for young people to understand that this distortion of portion sizes is causing us to think we can eat more of certain foods than our bodies truly need which can lead to being overweight or obese and an increased risk for chronic (long-lasting) disease.

The next time you eat, encourage your kids to pay particular attention to the experience: chew, eat and bite many times; notice the texture and feel of the food. It takes 20 minutes for our brains to register that we are full. By slowing down and enjoying the food, it will help us control how much we eat and makes mealtime more enjoyable for everyone around the table.

Use our Health Powered Kids lessons, “Portion Distortion” and “What’s My Portion Size?” to help kids understand how portion sizes factor into maintaining a healthy lifestyle.