Blog Nutrition Portion Size Guide: Use This To Control How Much You’re Eating

Portion Size Guide: Use This To Control How Much You’re Eating

A number of people today have a serious problem with overeating. In fact, studies show that the average American consumes about 23% more calories than they did in the 1970s (4). And it’s not just adults either – children are eating more too. This trend is concerning because it’s one of the major drivers of the obesity epidemic. One of the main reasons why people are eating too much is because of portion sizes. Portions have gradually gotten bigger over the years, and this is influencing people to consume more calories than they need. What could be done about this problem? One solution is portion control. This involves being mindful of the amount of food you’re eating and making sure that you’re not overeating. The portion size guide below can help you control your portions and make sure that you’re not eating too much.


How Do You Calculate Portion Size Of Food?

How much you should eat depends on a few factors, including your age, sex, activity level, and calorie needs. But in general, the following numbers roughly apply (2):

For Women

  • Not physically active – 1600 calories/day
  • Slightly active – 1800-2000 calories/day
  • Active – 2000-2200 calories/day

For Men

  • Not physically active – 2000 – 2200 calories/day
  • Slightly active – 2200-2400 calories/day
  • Active – 2400-2600 calories/day

Once you know how many calories you need per day, you can start to figure out how much food you should be eating at each meal. 

What Are Correct Portion Sizes?

The word portion means how much of a food you’re eating at one time. The term serving size refers to a standard amount of food, such as 1 cup or 1 slice. 

The two are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. A portion is the amount of food you pile on your plate, while a serving is a specific, measured amount of food. 

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For example, if you go to a restaurant and order a steak, the portion size would be the entire steak, while the recommended serving size of meat would be 3 ounces (85 grams), or about the size of a deck of cards. 

Unfortunately, many restaurants serve portions that are much bigger than a single serving. This can make it easy to overeat, even if you’re trying to be mindful of your food intake.

Food labels can also be confusing when it comes to portion sizes. This is because the serving sizes listed on labels are often much smaller than what people typically eat.

For example, a can of soda may have a label that says it contains 2.5 servings, but most people would drink the entire can in one sitting. This means that they’re actually consuming 10 teaspoons (40 grams) of sugar, rather than the 2.5 listed on the label.

The same goes for other foods like chips, cereal, and ice cream. It’s important to be aware of this so you don’t unintentionally overeat.

Read More: 1700 Calorie Meal Plan High Protein Diet For Weight Loss: How Effective Is This Diet For Weight Loss?


Portion Sizes For Common Foods

Now that you know what a portion is and how to calculate how much you should be eating, let’s take a look at some common foods and their recommended portion sizes.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines. Your specific needs may be different depending on your age, sex, activity level, and calorie needs.

If you need a visual portion size guide, picture a plate that’s divided into four quarters.

  • 1/2 of the plate (2 quarters) should be filled with fruit or non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, kale, or carrots.
  • 1/4 of the plate (1 quarter) should be filled with a lean protein like grilled chicken or fish.
  • 1/4 of the plate (1 quarter) should be filled with a complex carbohydrate like brown rice, quinoa, or starchy vegetables.
  • The hand portion size guide below can also be helpful in determining how much food you should be eating.
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3-4 ounces (85-113 grams), or the size of your open palm (1


  • 3 ounces (85 grams) of grilled salmon 
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) of chicken breast 

Complex Carbohydrates

1/2 – 1 cup (118-237 ml), or the size of your fist (1).


  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) of cooked brown rice 
  • 1 cup (237 ml) of cooked quinoa 


1-2 cups (237-473 ml), or the size of your clenched fist (1).


  • 1 cup (237 ml) of steamed broccoli 
  • 2 cups (473 ml) of mixed salad greens

portion size guide

Fats And Oils

1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml), or the size of your thumb tip (1).


  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of nut butter


1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml), or the size of your thumb tip (1).


  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of honey 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of maple syrup

The hand portion size guide has several advantages:

  • It’s easy to use and doesn’t require any special tools.
  • It can be used anywhere, whether you’re at home, work, or a restaurant.
  • Your hand size matches your body size in most cases, so it’s a good way to gauge how much food you should be eating.

Drawbacks of the hand portion size guide include:

  • It’s not very accurate for smaller portions, such as 1 ounce (28 grams) of nuts.
  •  It doesn’t work well for liquid foods, such as soup or milk.
  • Active people or those with larger or smaller than average hands may need to adjust the portions accordingly.

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portion size guide

Additional Portion Control Tips

There are a few different ways to practice portion control. One way is to use smaller plates and bowls. This will help to give you the illusion of eating more even though you’re actually consuming less food.

Another way to practice portion control is to be aware of the calorie content of the foods you’re eating. This means reading food labels and being mindful of how many calories you’re taking in.

Finally, it’s also important to make sure that you’re eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Skipping meals can lead to overeating later on, so it’s important to eat regularly throughout the day.

Note that portion control doesn’t equal quality control. A small portion of junk food is still junk food. The key is to focus on eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods first, and then worry about portion sizes.

How Can Mindful Eating Help?

The practice of mindfulness spans cultures and religions. It’s based on the belief that all beings have an innate capacity for wisdom, compassion, and courage.

When you eat mindfully, you savor your food and pay attention to the experience of eating. This means being aware of the taste, texture, smell, and appearance of your food. It also involves being aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.

Mindful eating can help you control your portion sizes. This is because you’re more likely to be aware of how much you’re eating and how it makes you feel.

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When you’re mindful of your eating, you’re more likely to notice when you’re full. You’re also less likely to eat for emotional reasons, such as stress or boredom.

Mindful eating can also help you make better food choices. This is because you’re more likely to be aware of the nutritional value of your food and how it will affect your body.

How To Eat Mindfully

There are different ways to eat mindfully. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Set aside time to eat. Eating mindfully takes time and effort. Make sure you’re not rushed when you sit down to eat.
  • Turn off distractions. This means no TV, phones, or other electronics. You want to be able to focus on your food and the experience of eating.
  • Pay attention to your food. Look at it, smell it, and taste it. Notice the textures and flavors.
  • Eat slowly. Chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing. This will help you savor your food and be more aware of when you’re full.
  • Avoid multitasking. Don’t try to eat and do something else at the same time. This will only lead to overeating.
  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to your physical hunger cues and stop eating when you’re full.
  • Avoid emotional eating. Eating should be about nourishing your body, not numbing your emotions. If you’re feeling stressed or emotional, find a healthy way to cope, such as exercise or journaling.
  • Respect your food. Show gratitude for the nourishment it’s providing to your body.
  • Be mindful of your portions. Avoid overeating by only taking the amount of food that you need. Serve yourself smaller portions and take a break before going for seconds.
  • Enjoy your food. Eating should be a pleasurable experience. savor each bite and appreciate the flavors, textures, and colors of your food.
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Mindful eating is a practice that can take time to master. But with patience and effort, it can be a helpful tool for controlling your portion sizes.

Read More: Hourglass Figure Diet: What To Eat For A Smaller Waist

portion size guide

Other Overeating Triggers To Avoid

There are other triggers that can lead to overeating. These include:


When you’re stressed, your body releases the hormone cortisol. This can lead to cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods (3).


If you deprive yourself of food or follow an overly restrictive diet, it can lead to overeating later on. It’s important to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid this trigger.


When you’re tired, you may be more likely to make poor food choices or to overeat. It’s important to get enough sleep and to eat foods that give you energy throughout the day.

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Eating can be a way to cope with boredom. When you find yourself snacking out of boredom, try to find other activities to occupy your time.

Busy Schedules

It can be hard to eat healthy when you’re always on the go. If you have a busy schedule, try to plan ahead and pack healthy snacks and meals with you.

The Bottom Line

Portion control is a simple yet effective way to reduce the amount of food you’re eating. By being mindful of the portion sizes of the foods you’re consuming, you can make sure that you’re not overeating and help to prevent weight gain.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans  2020 – 2025 (n.d., 
  2. How Much Should I Eat? Quantity and Quality (2022, 
  3. Stress and Eating Behaviors (2013, 
  4. What’s on your table? How America’s diet has changed over the decades (2016,
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