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Eat smaller portions

Take This Action Commit to this action for yourself to help overcome the obesity epidemic.

Portion sizes—the amount of food eaten in one sitting—have been growing since the 1970s and are associated with significant increases in the number of calories we take in30. This is a problem because we tend to eat what we are served and often don't notice when we're being served larger amounts31. Plates have also gotten bigger, encouraging us to serve ourselves more food. Our ability to estimate the calories in food decreases as portions get bigger—leaving us more likely to under-estimate how many calories we are taking in32. By learning how much we are supposed to eat, and by becoming aware of the cues that encourage us to eat more, we can better navigate the food environment.

Smarter, Smaller Portions

  • Know how much you are supposed to be eating.
    • Plug in your age, sex, and physical activity level to Super Tracker for a quick overview.
  • Learn to visualize reasonable portions using visual cues.
    • For example, a 1-oz serving of cheese is the size of four dice. A cup of rice is about the size of your fist. 3-oz of meat is the size of a deck of cards or iPhone.
  • Don't eat from a bag.
    • A serving size of tortilla chips can be as few as 7 chips33.
    • Look at the serving size on the bag and place that amount in a small bowl or plate so you can see how much you are eating.
    • If you want more, know that you are eating more servings and more calories.
    • Beware: many small sized bags contain more than the recommended serving size.
  • Try eating dinner from a smaller plate, like a salad plate, when you are at home.
  • Avoid supersizing.
    • Fast food restaurants use pricing strategies to encourage you to buy a larger size, which means more calories.
    • Share with a friend, or go for health value; choose the smallest size offered.
  • Try measuring the food you're serving yourself for one day.
    • In the morning, when you pour your cereal—take a minute to see how many cups you've poured into the bowl. How does this compare to the amount suggested on the box? If your portion is bigger than that described on the box, try pouring the rest back and adding fresh fruit or non-fat or low-fat yogurt to your cereal instead.
  • Pre-portion snacks using small containers or sealed baggies.
Read the Disclaimer

The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.


Strong evidence shows that portion size is associated with body weight. Being served and consuming smaller portions is associated with weight loss.