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Portion Size: Eating Out and Ordering In

Most Americans know that portion size is out of control. The standard dinner plate in the 60's was 7 to 9 inches across. Compare that to today's at 11 to 12 inches and it is easy to see how our portion size has become distorted. One study showed that women eat an average of 300 more calories a day than they did 30 years ago.

At restaurants, the problem becomes even more obvious. The average serving at a restaurant can feed two or three people. Add an appetizer or dessert and you could easily eat over 1,000 calories in one setting!

But there is hope. Many restaurants have a designated section of their menu with lower calorie options. Also, look at serving sizes on the items you eat at home and make sure you are eating one serving size and not two or three. Here are some other tips to help you take control of your portion size.

  • Your stomach is meant to hold as much as your two hands cupped together. Think about this next time you order a hamburger with fries to go or a big plate of pasta.
  • Look at the serving size of your food, and then use a measuring cup to ensure that you are only getting one serving.
  • Drink calorie beverages from a tall, narrow glass. There is something about height that makes us think we're getting a larger portion.
  • Use small serving bowls and plates. Use a salad plate instead of dinner plate.
  • At a restaurant, order an appetizer as your main meal, they are usually smaller in size. Better yet, share an appetizer as your main meal with a friend.
  • Ask for half of your entrée to be put in a to go box before it is even brought to your table.
  • If you must have dessert, order something you love and then share it.
  • Most restaurants list their menus online. Look up low calorie, healthy options before you go out to eat. That way you won't be as tempted.
  • Order water with your meal.
  • Ask your server to help you lighten a dish by making healthy substitutions and removing fattening condiments.
  • Look for items that are grilled, broiled, baked, stir fried or roasted. Try to limit fried items to one to two times a week.
  • Be careful of condiments and ask for light versions when available. Try to use small amounts of regular butter, salad dressings, special sauces, queso, sour cream, etc.