BlueHealth Advantage - Portion Your Platter

Portion Your Platter

Portion Your Platter

Portion Sizes Are Out of Control!

It seems everywhere we look we’re surrounded by giant plates of food. Whether it’s in the work cafeteria, at the “all-you-can-eat” buffet, or at our own dinner tables, we’re losing the battle of sensible portion size, and it’s showing in our ever-expanding waist size.

Recent data shows that close to 69 percent of the American population is overweight, and another 35 percent is obese. Chances are, the majority of adults you see on a daily basis could stand to lose some weight, and increasing food portion sizes are partly to blame.

Even though the battle to control portion size will be challenging, there’s no need to fear—the tips and strategies in this brochure will help you control both your portion sizes and your weight in the years to come.

Source: CDC

It's Time To Take Control
The Problem With Portion Size

Portion sizes are out of control, and it shows in our waistlines. How do your meals measure up? Here is your guide to eating right and living well.

Over the past 20 years, portion sizes have become super-sized. And were not just talking fast food—portion sizes have also increased at our own dinner tables. In fact, Americans are now consuming almost 100 more calories in salty snacks like chips or popcorn, 49 more calories in soft drinks, and 68 more calories in French fries—per serving! And while that may not seem like a lot, the 148 calories Americans have added to their daily diets works out to an additional 15 pounds of weight gained every year!

Super Sized Waist Lines

At the same time that portion sizes have super sized, so have Americans’ waistlines. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, for the first time in history, the majority of Americans are overweight, and one in four is obese (severely overweight). This means that Americans are not only bigger than they ever have been, but they’re also a lot less healthy than ever before.

Super Sized Health Problems

Unfortunately, as Americans’ waistlines increase, so do their health risks. To be sure, carrying excess weight puts you at greater risk for obesity related diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis—to name just a few.

Taking Control: Portioning

Your Platter

In addition to getting plenty of physical activity, controlling the portion sizes of the food you eat can go a long way in helping you take control of your waistline and improving your health. The tips and strategies inside of this brochure will help you learn more about “portioning your platter.”

A Plateful Of Fast Facts

Is the news about growing portion sizes simply a scare tactic? Another “flash-in-the-pan” news story quickly to be forgotten? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The fast facts below show just how much portion sizes have grown in recent years.

Over the last 20 years...

  • Hamburgers have become nearly 25 percent larger.
  • An average plate of Mexican food has increased in size by almost one-third.
  • Soft drinks have increased in size by 52 percent.
  • A typical bag of snack food—whether it is potato chips, pretzels, or crackers—is 60 percent larger now than it was in the 1970s.

Portion Your Platter… Serving Sizes Made Simple

You don’t need to memorize a food list or carry around measuring cups to get a better handle on serving sizes. Follow the easy tips and strategies outlined here to portion your platter!

You don’t have to stop eating all your favorite foods to eat healthy. In fact, you can still enjoy ice cream or an occasional cheeseburger, as long as you control your portions and are physically active on most days of the week. Remember, like most things in life, the key to eating healthy is moderation.

So how much is too much? Well, serving sizes are designed to help you determine how much to eat at meals so you won’t over-indulge on some of your favorites. Check out the suggestions listed here to help you judge if you’re eating the right serving sizes. With the help of some visual aids, eating the right amounts won’t be such a challenge.

How Much Is That?

The following comparisons will help you estimate the right amount of food to eat in one sitting.

  • A serving size of red meat is 3 ounces—about the size of a single deck of cards
  • 1 serving of fish, or poultry is about the size of a computer mouse
  • ½ cup of cut fruit or vegetables, pasta, or rice is about the size of a small fist
  • 1 cup of milk, yogurt, or chopped fresh greens is about the size of a tennis ball
  • A serving size of snacks like pretzels or chips is about 1 once, or one large handful
  • 1 ounce of cheese is about the size of four dice
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is about the size of a ping pong ball
  • An average-sized bagel is about the size of a hockey puck (about half the size of the gigantic bagels we’re used to!)

Eating Out: Tips For Eating Smaller Portions

Try the following tips the next time you visit your favorite restaurant—they’ll help you control your portion sizes.

  • Order a single-patty hamburger. Try ordering a regular (single patty) hamburger the next time you visit a fast food restaurant. By substituting a single-patty burger for a double-patty, you’ll save about 150 calories.
  • Order the small fries. By eating only a small order of fries instead of the “super-sized” fries, you’ll save about 300 calories.
  • If you must have soda, limit yourself to one small soda and skip the refills. A small soda has 150 fewer calories than a large one.
  • Share your entree. If you share an entrée with a friend the next time you visit a restaurant, you will come close to eating a healthy portion of food.
  • Order an appetizer. But only an appetizer! Getting an appetizer instead of a main course can help control the amount you eat because appetizers are often much smaller than entrées.
  • Get it to-go. Ask for half your meal to be packaged in a “to-go” box, and eat it for lunch the next day.

Staying at Home: Tips For Eating Smaller Portions

OK, so those are some tips for eating out, what about reducing portion sizes when eating at home? Check out the following tips.

  • Never eat directly out of the package. If you’re snacking at home, put a few pretzels or chips in a small bowl instead of eating by the handful right out of the bag.
  • Avoid buying processed foods in bulk. Instead of buying snack foods in bulk (or even by the box) buy single servings—this way you won’t eat the whole box/bag in a moment of weakness.
  • Cut your condiment consumption in half. When using butter, sour cream, mayonnaise, and cheese, use only half the amount you usually do. It may take some getting used to, but it’s easier than going without. Also, check out some of the low-fat varieties of these spreads; they can be very good. Remember: Just because it’s low fat or low calorie, doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Calories add up, even when you’re eating low-calorie or low-fat food.

Still Hungry?

Cutting portion sizes takes some getting used to. If, after attempting to cut your portion size, you’re still feeling hungry, try filling up on fruits and vegetables. Aim to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies for every meal. By filling up on fruits and vegetables, you not only gain essential vitamins and nutrients, but you also often replace high-calorie and high-fat foods with low-calorie, fiber-rich nutritional superstars. Plain and simple, in the battle to cut portion size, fruits and vegetables will help you feel full and save on calories at the same time.

Portion Size? Serving Size? Oh My!

Calories Count

The vast majority of Americans have no idea how many calories they consume in a given day. By simply being aware of the calories your body requires, compared to the calories you consume, you’ll be taking some big steps towards a thinner, healthier you. The chart below outlines recommended calorie intake.

  • Children ages 2 to 6 years, many inactive women, and some older adults may need about 1,600 calories per day.
  • Most children over 6, teen girls, active women, and many inactive men may need about 2,200 calories per day.
  • Teen boys and active men may need about 2,800 calories per day.

Unfortunately, due to increasing portion sizes, most Americans far exceed their recommended calories per day. One of the first steps in controlling portion size is understanding the common definitions. Check out the panel to the right to learn more about portion and serving sizes.

Source: USDA

Portion Size? Serving Size? What’s The Difference?

There’s no doubt that understanding portion sizes, serving sizes, and just how much we should be eating is a bit perplexing. To help shed some light on this topic, check out the following…

Portion Size—A portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat. There is no standard portion size, and no single right or wrong size. They can be larger or smaller than recommended serving sizes depending on how much you consume.

Serving Size—A serving size is a standard amount used to help give advice about how much to eat. The serving size is used as a measurement standard for providing nutritional information such as calories, cholesterol, sodium, or fat. Serving sizes are designed to help you compare the nutritional values of similar foods.

Now that we know a bit more about portion size and serving size, we need to learn how to put this new knowledge into action. To get a feel for how much you should consume, always check out the Nutrition Facts Label on your food item. The Nutrition Facts label information is based on one serving, but many packages contain more.

Look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and fat!

For More Information

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

US Department of Agriculture


WELCOA (Wellness Council of America
17002 Marcy Street, Suite 140
Omaha, NE 68118
Phone: (402) 827-3590

©2014 Wellness Council of America

The information contained in this brochure has been carefully reviewed for accuracy. It is not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider.