Teaching Your Kids Healthy Portion Control

Portion size is out of control. We have become accustomed to things like bottomless fries and drinks coming in cups that can hold half a gallon. Since the 1980s portions have continued to grow. Many of the foods have doubled in size in the past 30 years. These large portion sizes are having a negative impact on us and our children. 

The statistics are astounding. According to ahealthieramerica.org “1 out of 3 children are obese or overweight” and our children will be the “1st generation with shorter life expectancy than their parents”. These are not the numbers that any parent wants to hear. While there is a lot to be said about getting children to move more and make healthier eating choices, we cannot overlook the importance of portion control.

Make it Easy

The easiest way to teach your children portion control is to make it simple and use terms they are familiar with. One of the best strategies that I have found is to use your child’s hand. It is convenient because they always have it with them and they will enjoy testing to see how much they are eating. The strategy continues to work as they grow because their hands are growing along with the portion size they should be eating.

Palm – The size of the palm of your child’s hand is equivalent to one serving of meat or beans.  

Fist – When your child makes a fist it will show them the correct portion size for whole grain carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. 

Thumb – Your child’s thumb from the palm to the tip is one serving size of healthy fats such as peanut butter.

Thumb (knuckle to tip) – The top of your child’s thumb is the size of how much unhealthy fat they should use. For example, the amount of butter they are using with a meal.  

Things to Remember About Portion Control

  • When looking at the nutrition facts on food packaging make sure that you consider how many servings are in the package.
  • Until your child is familiar with portion control you can help them by putting snacks in individual containers.
  • Buy smaller snack containers. My girls always want their bowl to look full so if the bowl is smaller they are eating less, but are still happy with how much they are getting.

Make sure that you teach your children the reason why portion control is important. It is not about looks or weight, it is about being healthy to enjoy a long life. Let’s help change those statistics for the generations to come.