Circular 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.


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

*Children's Hospital of Orange County. (2012). Community Outreach: Healthy Eating. Retrieved from

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

Status and Revision History
Published on May 13, 2014
Published with Full Review on Mar 28, 2017

Diane W Bales Assoc Professor & Human Dev Spec, Family & Consumer Sciences
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