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How to Measure and Control Portion Sizes


Trying to lose some weight? Or maybe you just want to maintain a healthy size? Then you should be focusing on eating healthy food in proper portions. Healthy eating isn't just about eating the right foods; it’s also about eating the correct portions.

The amount of food that we consume at mealtimes isn’t a new topic, but there can be a bit of confusion between portion size and serving size. So let’s break it down, a portion refers to the total amount of food that you eat in one sitting. A serving size is the recommended amount of one particular food in a meal. By keeping tabs on your serving sizes, you can control your portion sizes.

So now that we understand the difference between a portion and serving sizes. Let’s look at the different ways we can control our portion sizes.

Use Smaller Dishware

The size of your plates, spoons, and glasses contribute to how much food we eat. Large plates make food appear smaller and can lead to overeating. For example, you may find yourself serving more of those delicious mushroom and cowpea meatballs than you usually do, just because you used a bigger plate.

So swap your usual plate, bowl, or serving spoon for a smaller alternative so that you can reduce the serving size of the food that you eat and prevent overeating. Try it, you'll be surprised to find that you feel just as full eating from a smaller dish than from a larger one.

Use Your Hands as a Serving Guide

Your hands usually correspond to your body size so you can estimate your correct portion size by simply using your hands.

Here’s a rough guide for each meal:

  • Proteins: A palm-sized serving for women and two palm-sized portions for men.
  • Vegetables and salads: A fist-sized portion for women and two fist-sized portions for men.
  • Carbs: One cupped-hand portion for women and two for men.
  • High-fat food: One thumb-sized portion for women and two for men.

Read the Label

Nutrition Facts are a legal requirement for most packaged foods and beverages. Food labels provide detailed information about a food’s nutritional content so reading the label helps you to compare foods and find the nutritional value that can aid your healthy eating habits.

The nutritional information on a food label is based on one serving of that food. So be sure to keep that in mind when serving your food.

Avoid eating from containers

Avoid eating those biscuits out of the box, or eating that lasagne straight from the pot (we've all done this before). Eating directly from the food container can lead to consuming more food than is recommended.

Portion out a single serving size on a plate so that you can be in control of the number of calories you consume, this is a fundamental element to healthy eating.

You can also use measuring tools to help train your eye on what a normal portion looks like for different types of foods.

Eating Out

What if you're eating out and don't want to go through the hassle (or embarrassment) of measuring the amount of carbs you’re about to eat with your hands.

When you eat out, the serving sizes are usually larger than the recommended amount. To avoid eating more than you should, you can order a half portion or even get something from the kid's menu.

If you would prefer to order a full-size meal, then you can ask the waiter or waitress to box up half of your food before you eat or you can share the meal with a partner.

Controlling portion sizes is a key part of healthy eating. It’s an important way for you to get the benefits of healthy food and avoid overeating. Practising good portion control makes it easier to digest food, reach or maintain a healthy weight and stay energised throughout the day

Make sure you consult your doctor or dietitian for guidance on making changes to your food choices.