What is proper portion control?

Wendy Batts
Proper portion control is different for every individual. Because we are all different shapes and sizes, the amount of calories that you eat each day should depend on your overall goal. Determining the recommended calories based on your goal will be extremely important so you know just how many calories you should consume each day. Once this number is suggested, try staying within that recommended guideline so you are consuming the proper amount of daily calories that will get you to your goal in the timeline you chose.

Here are some helpful hints that will keep you aware of how much you are eating every day.
  • Use a food scale: This will help you determine just how many ounces you are eating
  • Track your food: Using a food log will help keep you aware of how often and how much you are eating daily.
  • Read the labels: When reading food labels, be sure to notice how many slices, pieces, or ounces make up one serving. Often times there are multiple servings in one container/can/box which can easily be overlooked.
  • If out at a restaurant: Ask for a “to go” container and cut your meal in half before you begin your meal (often times there are more calories served to you then what is recommended for that particular meal).
  • Drink water: Drinking at least 8 bottles of water each day will help reduce the sense of feeling hungry.
  • Balance your meals: A proper amount of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats per meal will help keep you satisfied for a longer period of time, reducing the amount of calories you will consume each day.
  • Healthy snacks: Having healthy snacks like fruits, Greek yogurt and protein shakes handy will keep you from grabbing snacks that are high in fat and calories.
Portion control is key to keeping your weight down.

A proper portion is the recommended healthy amount of a food. In order to be sure you are eating the proper portion size you must become a label reader and measurer. A portion size may vary from 8 oz. or 1 cup of cereal, to 3 crackers. Each person needs a specific amount of calories in order for their body to function. That number is different for each one of us. Eating the proper portion size will help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Most foods and beverages are packaged in two serving containers, so even if you are making a healthier choice if you do not read the label you are eating twice as many calories as you planned. 
Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Portion control is eating the appropriate amount of food to maintain a healthy body weight. This is challenging in Western society since portions are typically much bigger than what we need to manage our waistlines.  Portion control is also eating the right number of calories for your body.
To download an article with visual guidelines for portion sizes, click this link

Continue Learning about Portion Control

Grab This Utensil to Eat Less
Grab This Utensil to Eat Less
No, it's not a single chopstick (although that would certainly work). It's a big fork. In a recent study done at an Italian restaurant, researchers f...
Read More
What are the proper portion sizes for food?
Crystal RobertsonCrystal Robertson
To keep control of your portions, begin with measuring cups and spoons. In this video, Crystal Rober...
More Answers
How do I judge portion sizes in order to avoid overeating?
Kat Barefield, MS, RDKat Barefield, MS, RD
A good way to estimate portion sizes is to have visual references that represent an appropriate port...
More Answers
Use Bigger Utensils to Eat Less
Use Bigger Utensils to Eat Less

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.