Sometimes the portion size and serving size are the same, but sometimes they are not. Understanding the difference between the two is vital in determining how much to serve and consume.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the two terms can be defined as the following:

Portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package or in your own kitchen.

A portion is 100 percent under our control. Many foods that come as a single portion actually contain multiple servings.

Serving Size is the amount of food listed on a product’s Nutrition Facts label. So all of the nutritional values you see on the label are for the serving size the manufacturer suggests on the package.

Learning how much to put on your plate during meal time can help control how many calories, among other nutrients, you are eating.

At times it can be challenging to determine if the portions we choose are appropriate for our nutrition needs and healthy weight maintenance.

Portion sizes have increased over the years, resulting in the sharp rise in obesity rates in America.

Try these five tips to consume smaller portions:

Dish up the appropriate serving to each family member when cooking and eating at home or ordering takeout for home. Put the extra food away and utilize leftovers for another meal.

Go easy on the “free” appetizers when dining out and skip the option to order an appetizer before your meal. Split an entrée with someone and choose the children’s meal for kids when available.

Pay attention and do not eat while watching TV or when you are on the computer. If you are unable to concentrate and watch exactly what you are putting in your mouth, it is challenging to control how much you actually eat.

Measure out snacks you consume, from chips to fruit, into appropriate portion sizes and put them into a small bowl. Avoid eating straight from the box or bag.

Visit a dietitian to determine a meal plan specific for you which can establish appropriate portion sizes you need to stay in a healthy weight range.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at

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