Topic 2 Portion size matters

A portion of food, may reflect an own choice, a decision from a food producer or restaurant, or a recommendation by a health professional or the government.

Portion sizes at supermarkets, vending machines or restaurants have increased in recent decades, also highlighting the introduction of ‘super-sized’ portions. Even more, larger portion sizes can usually be offered at a proportionally low cost. In this context, managing food portions could be especially conflicting in case of overweight and obesity.

The effect of portion size on total energy intake has been observed with foods and beverages, especially those energy-dense, known as “portion size effect”. When controlling calorie intake, understanding how energy density and portion size work together can lead to more effective nutrition education messages, than simply encouraging to eat less. In fact, portion management for children should also target increasing portion sizes for low energy density foods such as fruit and vegetables or larger snack packs for healthy foods.

Source: Pexels

QUESTION: Is it easy to make home a portion friendly zone?

  • In the home setting, parents or caregivers serving sizes are strongly associated with the amounts children consume, so it is crucial for parent s to have experience with age-appropriate portion sizes and the energy density of foods. Managing food portions could be confusing and challenging for parents.
  • It does not consist of measuring and counting everything the child eats, but parents should recognize age-appropriate serving sizes
  • Serve the food on individual plates, instead of putting the serving dishes on the table.
  • Keep the excess food out of reach may discourage overeating.
  • Eat a healthy snack to avoid overeating during the next meal, if child feels hungry
  • Try to avoid eating or snaking in front of TV or other screens. If occurs, don´t let children eat straight from the package. Instead, serve food in a small bowl.
  • Be aware of regular household items that you can use to quickly estimate portions: a cup, a tablespoon, etc.
  • It could help using handy guide to serving sizes to determine portion sizes: palm of the hand, both palms cupped together, a thumb, a handful, a fist, etc.
  • It could be useful that both parents and children to know portion equivalence to familiar objects such as a tennis ball, computer mouse, deck of cards…

Source: Canva

  • tall, thin and small volume glasses and mugs
  • smaller diameter and volume plates, bowls and serving utensils
  • plates with rims
  • plant-based diet plates
  • oil /cheese/ nuts dispensers
  • sectored or restricted volume tupperware

Source: Canva

There several websites and resources to get ideas and further information on portion size control: