How to Learn Portion Control – Visual Cues

by | Mar 4, 2013 | Health Habits, Nutrition Support, Uncategorized

Portion control is a delicate balance between two points – starving and overeating. The delicate balance is also called ‘healthy eating’.

We achieve portion control when we eat the right quality and quantity of a variety of foods. It is the solution to all our weight related woes. Whether thin or fat, portion control is the key to getting back in shape.

Determining Portion Size

Quality we understand, but what constitutes the right quantity? Unfortunately for us, there is no one-size-fits-all. The quantity to be served depends on factors such as the food group and nutrition density of each food. If the food is densely packed with nutrition we eat less of it and vice-versa. And if you really want to get accurate, the portion quantity is further determined by gender, level of physical activity, and age.

Here’s the general rule:

  1. Men should be served roughly 25% more than women.
  2. Once you reach 30 years of age reduce portion size by 25% and thereafter every 30 years reduce again by 25%.

Visual Cues to Portion Control


  • Fruit Juice – fresh fruit juice: 2 cups; if you use dried fruit, 1 cup.
  • Fresh Fruit – A 3 to 4 inch diameter apple, Peach, Orange, Pear or similar sized fruit would be
    roughly equivalent to one cup.  A large banana (up to 9 inches) would be 1 cup.
  • Melons – 2 medium wedges (about ¼ of a medium sized melon)
  • Grapes – with seeds: 1 cup; without seeds: two handfuls
  • Pineapple – 1 cup sliced, diced, or crushed; 1 cup cooked or 1 cup canned and drained
  • Plum- 3 medium or 2 large, or 1 cup sliced or cooked
  • Strawberries – 8 large
  • Fruit purees and nectars – ½ cup puree or 8 fluid ounces of nectar
  • Freeze-dried fruit – 1/2 cup


  • Meat, fish, poultry, shellfish – 3 ounces which is about the size of a Smartphone i.e. 2 inches wide, 4 inches long and about half inch thick.


  • Pasta, rice, cereal – 1 cup which is about the size of your fist (with fingers tucked in) or visualize a small orange.
  • Whole-Grain products –  1 ounce, single bread slice.


  • Cooked veggies – 1 cup or the size of a baseball
  • Raw veggies – 2 cups or the size of two baseballs.

Low-Fat Dairy

  • Milk, yogurt – 1 cup (see our portion control glass markings)
  • Cheese – 1 ounce which is the size of a matchbox.

Nuts: 1 ounce – a shot glass full of nuts.

Nut Butter: 2 tablespoons – size of a wine cork.

Beans and Legumes: 1/2 cup – size of a computer mouse.

Fats (oil, butter, mayonnaise): 2 teaspoons – size of 2 dice.

The quantities mentioned here were formulated by U.S.D.A and derived based on energy utilized by the average modern day human. Very few of us do hard physical labor. Consequently we only need to replenish what little energy we consume.

Trying to Remember Visual Cues to Portion Control

Did it say size of a Smartphone or was it a cup? For most of us, trying to remember the serving quantities of various foods is an impossible task. But that’s the government for you. They love to be accurate never mind the non-practicality of it all. Fortunately, there is a simpler way of doing things.

Take a 9-inch dinner plate and visualize it divided into four parts – each containing one of the four recommended food groups i.e. fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. You are also permitted one 8oz glass of low-fat milk or low-fat non-flavoured yogurt. That’s it!

If you have difficulty visualizing what your portion control dinner plate looks like, we recommend you buy portion control dinnerware set (plates, glasses, bowls, and nutrition materials). Buying these takes the guesswork out of portion control.