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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Weight Control


Healthy meal of fish and vegetables on a small plate, good portion sizeWeight management: Avoiding portion distortion in the new year

Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension


Many people’s resolutions relate to weight loss and healthy eating habits. To help manage your weight throughout the entire year, it is important to use portion control. Apply the following tips to avoid falling into the portion distortion trap in the new year.


  • When eating at home, read food labels and pay attention to serving sizes as well as number of servings in a package. Purchase pre-packaged single-serving foods, such as applesauce cups, or buy in bulk and then package single serving sizes of those foods yourself to help prevent you from overeating. Eating on a smaller plate is also an easy way to cut down on consumption.
  • When eating at a restaurant, split your meal with someone or take half home for your next meal. Another option is to order a half-portion or an appetizer as your meal. Many times dishes served at restaurants are much larger than we need, so not only do these methods help us eat in moderation, but they save us money as well. Avoid “super-sizing” your order at fast food restaurants even if it seems like a better deal.
  • When eating at holidays or functions in which there will be large amounts of food, it is good to keep a few things in mind. Don’t fast before a big meal because it can cause you to get too hungry and be more likely to overeat. You may even want to eat a light snack, such as a piece of fruit, before you go. If there is a buffet table, take only small amounts of the foods you want to try and don’t stand near the table once you have gotten your food. Never overeat just to please the hostess!
  • In any eating situation, use the USDA’s MyPlate icon as a simple way to think about what a healthy meal should look like and to avoid oversized portions. The recommendations are to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, a fourth of your plate grains, and a fourth of your plate protein. A cup of fat-free or low-fat (1%) dairy should be included on the side. To learn more about MyPlate go to



Quaker Oats Company. (2010). Tips for avoiding portion distortion. Retrieved November 28, 2011, from


USDA. (2011). Choose Retrieved November 28, 2011, from


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