Appropriate Portion Sizes (C 1037-13) University of Georgia Extension Learn quick ways to estimate appropriate portion sizes for common foods, and help your child practice measuring and comparing portions of cereal. 2017-03-28 14:55:21.743 2014-05-13 17:14:29.0 Eat Healthy, Be Active Series: Appropriate Portion Sizes | Publications | UGA Extension Skip to content

Appropriate Portion Sizes (C 1037-13)

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By Kathryn Tarulli, Dr. Diane Bales and Dr. Charlotte Wallinga — Department of Human Development and Family Science

Stop Eating When Your Full: Promote healthy eating habits by encouraging your family to stop eating when they are full.

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To encourage your family to stop eating when they feel full, it can be helpful to start by serving appropriate portion sizes.

An easy way to determine a serving size is by comparing the size of the food to your hand.

  • Protein (meat, poultry, fish): size of your palm
  • Cheese: size of your thumb
  • Fruits/Vegetables: size of your fist
  • Pretzels/Chips/Popcorn: size of your cupped hand

Appropriate portion sizes for a child are comparable to the same parts of the child's hand. This portioning may not always be exact, but it a simple way to approximate.

You can help your family learn to avoid over-eating. Encourage small portions. Explain that they can have more if they still feel hungry. This helps your child learn how much to eat before becoming full.

*USDA. (2011). MyPlate: Health and Nutrition Information for Preschoolers. Retrieved from www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers.html

*Children's Hospital of Orange County. (2012). Community Outreach: Healthy Eating. Retrieved from www.choc.org/community/

Family Fun Activity: Cereal Comparisons

Use this easy activity to help your child learn.

What You Need:

  • Cereal
  • 2 Bowls
  • 1/2 Cup measuring cup

What To Do:

  • Invite your child to join you in an experiment
  • With your child, pour a bowl of cereal (of the size you would typically use)
  • Talk to your child about portions and serving sizes
  • Ask your child how he or she thinks that bowl of cereal compares with the recommended serving
    • For preschool-aged children, a recommended portion is 1/2 cup
  • Allow your child to use the measuring cup to pour a serving size of cereal into the other bowl
  • Talk to your child about how the two bowls of cereal compare

This is publication 13 out of 24 in the Eat Healthy, Be Active: Keeping Children Healthy at Home and School series. For more information visit www.eathealthybeactive.net

Status and Revision History
Published on May 13, 2014
Reviewed on Mar 28, 2017