Cutting Calories With Portion Control

happy family eating together at table

The amount of food on our plates has increased over the years. Average portion sizes are 2 to 5 times as big as they were in the past. For example, 20 years ago, a regular serving of French fries weighed 2.4 ounces and had 210 calories. Today’s typical serving of fries is a whopping 6.9 ounces and 610 calories. That’s important because research shows most people eat and drink more when served more.

Choosing smaller portions can help you lose weight and keep it off.

What a portion size should look like:

  • 1 ounce of meat = size of a matchbox
  • 3 ounces of meat = size of a deck of cards or bar of soap (the recommended portion for a meal)
  • 8 ounces of meat = size of a thin paperback book
  • 1 medium potato = size of a computer mouse

When eating out:

  • Share an entrée with a friend.
  • Ask for half your meal to be packed for you and eat it for lunch the next day.
  • When ordering fast food, choose a regular single hamburger instead of the larger burger or the double burger. Or better yet, choose a grilled chicken sandwich if available.
  • Say “no” to super-sizing. Instead; order the smallest size available.

At home:

  • Don’t “snack from the bag.” Instead, place a few chips, crackers, or cookies in a bowl to help keep you from overeating. Or buy single-serving portions.
  • Use half the amount of butter, sour cream, or mayo you usually use – or save even more calories by using low-fat varieties.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


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