How Can I Teach My Child About Portions?

How Can I Teach My Child About Portions?

Portion management is commonly associated with restricted diets and children’s healthy eating habits. To reduce calories, you must monitor and reduce your portion sizes. However, when teaching kids how to limit their portion sizes, we don’t typically pay much attention to this.

In addition to allowing children to consume high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-saturated-fat items such as fast food and processed packaged food, excessive portion sizes also contribute to the continued increase in childhood obesity in the United States.

How Can I Teach My Child About Portions? - ShapeDown
How Can I Teach My Child About Portions? – ShapeDown

Over the previous four decades, portion sizes have seen a dramatic expansion, which has, as one might expect, resulted in expanding appetites. According to numerous studies, the size of a person’s portion affects the amount of food they consume, regardless of age.

Children’s Portion Control

When we discuss controlling our healthy portion sizes, we almost always center our attention on the quantity of food that we place on our plates. As parents, there are times when we cannot help ourselves. We tend to serve them more of their preferred food groups.

The issue of controlling portions is not limited to what you feed your children. It is also about the size of the plate, the proportional amounts of food on these plates, and the availability of refills.

A proper portion size involves developing good eating habits, such as regular meals and healthy snacks. Here are five ways parents can assist their children with portion control.

Portion Counting

The portion size should be comparable to the palm. Kids’ meals should be the size of their palm, not yours! Remember that your palm and your child’s palm are substantially different when presenting dinner. Today, there are various oversized and jumbo products that it is difficult to recall how much we should consume.

Use the following methods and suggestions to teach your children about portion sizes:

Teach them to identify hunger signals

Hunger Signals - ShapeDown
Hunger Signals – ShapeDown

If children aren’t aware of how hungry they are, they won’t be prepared to evaluate how much food they require during snack time. Explain what hunger feels like and how to recognize when you’re full. Ask them how hungry they are before you serve food. This will teach kids about the connection between hunger and the amount of food they consume.

In the same way that children need to practice reading before they can move on to chapter books and driving before they can venture out on the roads by themselves, they also need to practice determining how much food they should consume during any meal.

Children are accountable for the quantity and quality of their diets. By allowing children to determine how much they consume at each meal and snack, you provide them with the necessary moderation exercise. In this way, you can easily teach kids about portions.

Show Visuals to Children

Show Visuals to Children - ShapeDown
Show Visuals to Children – ShapeDown

One of the reasons children might not be consuming the appropriate amount of food based on the portions advised by you is that they might not understand what a decent portion size looks like. How does a half-cup of spaghetti appear? What do you think of having two tablespoons of peanut butter or three ounces of chicken?

The good news is that children do not require a measuring cup or scale to determine the appropriate size of the portions they should consume. Instead, they may visualize these portions using everyday things, such as a tennis ball or DVD, comparable in size to the advised parts.

Before eating or drinking, kids can consider the appropriate object and select a portion that fits its size. In this way, kids will eat a balanced diet.

An Approach to Cooking a Perfect Meal

This is a relatively simple way of controlling servings throughout any meal. By dividing your plate into portions and filling it with food, you can prepare a balanced meal every time. This is an excellent method to familiarize the family with how much of each meal type they should consume.

If this is a new concept in your home, you should consider purchasing such plates. These plates have divided portions that you can fill with different foods and make healthy snacks for your kids.

Snacks Are Essential

Snacks are essential - ShapeDown
Snacks are essential – ShapeDown

The majority of youngsters will require between two and three nutritious snacks daily. Snacks are an essential dietary component for young children who are still developing their bodies. Snacks can help you teach kids about portions.

Small snacks can supply the necessary energy to sustain them between meals. Alternatively, if you have a finicky eater, it may be because they consume too many snacks or because their snacks are too large.

Avoid relying too much on ready-made or processed bars and snacks because they often contain much sugar. The best snacks are unprocessed foods and cooked vegetables.

Show children what “healthy eating” looks like

Teach them that they should fill half their plate with fresh fruit and vegetables since these foods provide essential nutrients that will assist their bodies’ development. The remaining half of their diet should consist of whole carbohydrates and lean proteins that give the children the energy to run, dance, and play.

Show them examples of these essential dietary groups while cooking or grocery shopping. This way, you can teach about a specific food group and make kids eat healthy alternatives to junk foods.

Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad.”

All foods should have a place in a child’s diet, as should be taught to children. Mark foods with “go,” “slow,” and “whoa.” Children can “give the green light” to healthy foods, such as whole grains and skim milk, and “slow down” when it comes to less nutritious foods, such as waffles.

The least nutritious foods, such as French fries, do not need to be off-limits, but children should think twice before eating them. Never label foods as good or bad because a picky eater child might stop eating required food even if it is marked as good.

Food safety measures are required.

When youngsters dine away from home, it is crucial to take the proper precautions. It may also be a lunchbox. You must instruct children on safe food handling when dining away from home, from washing their hands before eating to making proper food portions. Always remember that prevention is preferable to treatment!

Managing Portion Sizes

Learning about serving sizes is one of the most effective ways to understand portion amounts.

This is especially simple to perform with prepackaged food, as the portion size is typically displayed in a prominent location on the food label. Do not assume that a package containing two, three, or even five servings contains only one serving.

You can better control your child’s portion sizes at home and dining out by providing them a single serving from the main dish and allowing them to have an extra salad or other vegetables if they are still hungry.

This method may be used both at home and at restaurants. If you’re going out to eat, you can also do this at home. Furthermore, go for kid’s portions, small orders, or half meals if you’re dining out. Buy only bite-sized or single-serve snacks. Repackage the product in single-serving quantities after revising the label.

What should parents know about portion sizes and serving sizes?

A portion is a measurable quantity, and it is listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of a food product. The information regarding calories and nutrition is based on one serving size and a diet consisting of 2,000 calories.

You can consider a portion as the quantity of food you offer your kids for every bite. Families must be conscious that the Nutrition Facts label may not reflect their child’s actual serving size. How many calories your child needs will dictate how many calorie-rich crackers you give them; for example, fifteen crackers may serve as a serving on a label.

Parents need to know that the portion sizes at restaurants might vary. Children’s cheeseburgers and sodas can be different, while a restaurant’s little chips may be the same size as its medium fries. Nutritional information should be readily available to parents, including serving sizes and amounts.


The best way to help your child learn about portions is to have an open dialogue about food and their thoughts. Everyone has different nutritional preferences and needs, and your children’s eating habits will likely alter as they mature. So it is essential to teach them about portion control from an early age.

A youngster may oppose portion control and regard it as a form of punishment; therefore, it is essential to assist them in avoiding this association. Teach your child that portion control helps them to enjoy the pleasure of eating without experiencing discomfort. Use a child-sized plate and control how many servings a child should have per day.

Jim Yi