When dining out and anxiously waiting for your meal to come, it’s hard not to notice the sizes of the entrees passing by. A single individual receives one entree which contains enough pasta to feed a family of four. How is it possible for a family to eat less when we are served more and more? First, make a healthy entree choice and second exercise your portion power.
Research has shown that preschool-aged children will eat more when large portions of highly palatable and tempting foods are offered. When eating out parents instinctively turn to the children’s menu which offers traditional high fat and high salt foods, like fries, burgers, chicken nuggets and chips. Instead, consider having your child split a healthy meal from the standard menu or request a half entree.
A portion is defined as how much food an individual chooses to eat in one sitting, whereas a serving is defined as a standard amount set by the government. Are you curious to see how portion sizes have grown in the past 20 years? Take an interactive quiz from NIH.
Keep this simple technique in mind whenever you are putting food on a plate for you or your preschool or older age child. Half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and/or fruits. Your portion of meat shouldn’t take up more than a quarter of the plate. The remaining quarter should contain whole grains (whole wheat pasta, wild rice), beans or starchy vegetables (corn, sweet potatoes, peas).
Just remember, every time you eat you are making choices that not only impact your health but also influence your child’s health. Choose to make your meals matter for you and your family.
*For age specific serving sizes for infants go to Introduction to Solids; for Toddlers go to How Much Should My Toddler Eat and a Sample Menu For a One Year Old.
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