Circular 1037-14
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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.


In order to build healthy eating habits, it is important to limit portion sizes to be realistic for what our bodies need.

Smaller portion sizes can also help make it easier to stop eating when full without wasting uneaten food.

Here are some tips to help you and your family serve more appropriate portions:

Divide Plates into Food Groups
Encourage your family to use the MyPlate method of dividing plates. Use one top section for protein, the other for grains, and the bottom half for fruits and vegetables. The sections should not overlap or be piled high.

Serve Food on Smaller Plates
This gives the appearance of a larger portion while keeping the portion size in check.

Stop When Full
Allow your child to serve him or herself, and decide when to stop eating. Do not expect your child to eat everything on the plate.

*The Nemours Foundation. (2012). KidsHealth: Keeping Portions Under Control. Retrieved from

Family Fun Activity: Self Serving

Use this easy activity to help your child learn.

What You Need:

  • Meal
  • Bowls
  • Child-sized serving spoons

What To Do:

  • Allow your child to serve him or herself at your next meal
  • Encourage your child to take small amounts to start
  • Help your child learn how to choose appropriate portions
  • A portion should be about the size of his or her hand
  • Explain to your child how to choose the right foods to put on the plate
  • Talk about MyPlate
    • 1/4 of the plate should be protein
    • 1/4 of the plate should be grains
    • 1/2 of the plate should be fruits and vegetables


This is publication 14 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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