Seven Ways to Size Up Your Servings
Learning about servings sizes can help you judge how much you are eating. What’s the
difference between servings and portions? A “serving” is a standard amount set by the USDA.
A “portion” is how much you eat at a meal or snack. There is no standard portion size. This
means a portion for you may be more or less than the serving size.
Common household items can be handy serving size models. Use the chart below as a quick
guide to help you choose proper portions:
Putting Portions into Practice
Choosing proper portions is key to giving your body the energy it needs to maintain a healthy
weight. Try some of these tips to put portions into practice:
Serve food on a smaller plate, such as a salad or 6-inch plate.
Plate food in the kitchen instead of serving bowls “family style” on the table.
Tune into what you are eating and enjoy the smell, taste, and texture of your food. Avoid
eating in front of the TV, computer, or while distracted.
Eat slowly so your brain can get the message that your stomach is full. It takes 15-20 minutes
for this message to travel from your stomach to your brain.
If you are still hungry, enjoy second servings of vegetables.
Take a standard serving out of the package and eat it from a plate instead of straight from the
If you eat on the go, plan time to portion larger packages into single servings or buy single
serving or snack-sized packages.
When cooking in large batches, freeze food that you do not want to eat right away. Freeze in
single meal sized servings. Just thaw overnight in the fridge or simply in the microwave
when ready to eat.
You may want to measure foods and drinks a few times using standard measuring cups and
spoons to learn what the volume or weight looks like on your plate.
Share a meal with family or a friend.
Order a half-portion of a main meal.
Take half of your meal home. Ask for a box before you begin eating so you will not be
tempted to eat more than you need.
Hold the bread or chips until your meal is served. Out of sight, out of mind.
If you decide to have dessert, order one dessert with multiple spoons for everyone to share.
Quit the “clean plate club.” When you’ve eaten enough, leave the rest.
What is the most important thing you learned from this handout?
What changes will you make in your diet/lifestyle, based on what you learned today?
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the
phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition
Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s
Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500
Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 2/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Clinical Nutrition Services Department and the Department
of Nursing. HF#401