What is a portion size? What about a serving size? More importantly, what is the appropriate serving size for your child? Do you know?
Today, there is a crisis referred to as portion distortion, meaning we have a skewed belief of what our portion sizes should be. In the last twenty years, portion sizes have exponentially grown. Today, what is considered a portion size is over double the calories than what a portion size was considered twenty years ago. For example, these days, a hamburger served in a typical restaurant may be twice as big as hamburger serves twenty ago. As a result, our own skewed understanding of portion sizes are taught to our children, leading them to overeat and develop unhealthy eating habits and health-related issues such as obesity and high cholesterol.
To understand appropriate portion sizes, it is first important to know that a portion size—the amount of food we eat at meal or snack time—is not the same as a serving size, the recommended amount of food to be consumed as defined on nutritional food labels. Further, the serving sizes defined on food labels are not necessarily appropriate for your children.
Your children are growing and the amount of food they need changes and varies depending on their gender, age, and physical activity. Take a look at the chart below for the appropriate portion sizes for different age groups and educate yourself so you can teach your children portion control.
Are you surprised by the serving sizes listed in the chart above? Based on the chart, are you feeding your children portion sizes that are too big? If so, it is time for a change. Use the chart above as a guideline to modify your children’s eating habits and teach them portion control. Make it easy for your children by teaching them to eyeball appropriate portion sizes. For example, tell them, “You should eat enough vegetables every day to fill a baseball.” Feeding your children appropriate portion sizes and teaching them about portion control will guide them through healthy eating habits that will help maintain their overall health.
Even though it is recommended that most children consume 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, the typical kid or teen only seems to take in a small percentage of this amount. In order to ensure maximum nutrient intake from these real nutrient-packed foods, look to 100% fruit and vegetable derived vitamin and mineral formulas that provide a number of these nutrient equivalents per serving (i.e. Samuraw Organic Complete provides a full 7 servings – nutrient wise – of fruits and vegetables.).
Shield, Jo Ellen. March 15, 2017. Kids and Portion Control. Eat Right. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/portion-distortion
Perfect Serving Sizes. 2011. Build Healthy Kids. http://www.buildhealthykids.com/servingsizes.html
Portions and Serving Sizes. November 2015. Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Portions-and-Serving-Sizes.aspx
Serving Sizes and Portions. September 2013. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/distortion.htm