Portion Control

Cookies as big as frisbees. Muffins the size of flower pots. Bowls of pasta so deep, your fork can barely find the bottom. One reason people's waistlines have expanded over the past few decades is because food portions have too.

People today eat way more than they used to — and way more than they need to. This means that they're constantly taking in more calories than their bodies can burn. Unfortunately, lots of us don't realize that we're eating too much because we've become so used to seeing (and eating!) large portions.

Serving Sizes and What they Should Look Like

1 cup of cereal flakes    The size of a fist
 1 pancake   A compact disc
 ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, or potato  
 ½ of a baseball
 1 slice of bread    A cassette tape
 1 cup of salad greens  
 A baseball
 1 medium fruit    A baseball
 ½ cup of raisins  A large egg
 1 ½ oz. cheese  
 4 stacked dice
 ½ cup of ice cream    ½ baseball
 1 cup serving of milk, yogurt, or fresh greens    The size of a fist
 3 oz. meat, fish, and poultry   Deck of cards
 3 oz. grilled/baked fish   Checkbook
 2 Tbsp. peanut butter    Ping pong ball
 1 teaspoon of oil    The size of your thumb tip

Helpful Hints
  • If you’re eating out, choose small portion sizes, share an entree with a friend, or take part of the food home (if you can chill it right away).
  • Check product labels to learn how much food is considered to be a serving, and how many calories, grams of fat, and so forth are in the food. Many items sold as single portions actually provide 2 servings or more. Examples include a 20-ounce container of soft drink, a 12-ounce steak, a 3-ounce bag of chips, and a large bagel.
  • Be especially careful to limit portion size of foods high in calories, such as cookies, cakes, other sweets, French fries, and fats, oils, and spreads.
  • Eat your meals on a smaller plate so your meal looks larger. A sandwich on a dinner-size plate looks lost; on an appetizer plate it looks downright hefty.
  • Try not to rush through your meals. Eat slowly and chew well, give yourself a chance to feel full before you take more. If you do want seconds, go for more salad or veggies.
  • Avoid taking an entire bag of chips or a container of ice cream to the couch. You're far less likely to overdo it if you serve yourself a portion in the kitchen first.
^ Back to Top

Portion sizes have changed



20 years ago


3" diameter
140 Calories

6" diameter
350 Calories

Request an Appointment