Total confusion about portion sizes?

huge portion
A pretty large portion of food

What do you base your food portion sizes on? Or do you bother? Have you ever realized that there is conflicting information about portion sizes out there or lack of real guidance? For example, in the United States, the new American Food pyramid (changed over the years) shows the following:

new food pyramid final

Actually, there are numerous food pyramids I’ve found online, such as the “Energy food pyramid”, “Kids food pyramid”, “Anti-inflammatory food pyramid”, “Real food pyramid”, “Box Turtle food pyramid” (???), “18-22 year olds food pyramid”, you name it.

Do any of the recommended portions of foods above match the serving size suggestions on nutrition information lists of food products in your country? Well, there is not always that much of a correlation. Or what about the commonly known portion sizing based on the palm of your hand?  Or for various diets?

Portion sizing can be very confusing indeed. Some diets don’t even give exact recommendations, but rather number of points, or just total calories per day, grams of carbs, or measurements like that. You could find yourself eating all carbs for the calorie allowance, or even sweets. Or have you ever tried the cabbage diet? Oh my!

I know that eating proper portions of foods, and foods in a variety of categories is important for good nutrition. I also know it can be tough to eat the right foods to meet those dietary guidelines.

So often, restaurants serve huge portions that could potentially be enough for two or even up to four people. We also overestimate our hunger (or have excess hunger) that leads us to eat excessively large portions, without a care.

If you have specific health issues or wish to lose weight to improve your health (or even for vanity sake), I would strongly recommend that you consult with your general practitioner for a diet recommendation, and get hints on recommended portion sizes. Do mention if you prefer some foods much more than others. That could affect their recommendation. In my case, I’ve had high cholesterol and high triglycerides for a long time. At one time I was even pre-diabetic. I didn’t even know where to start to reduce these blood levels. I consulted a dietician, though I know that’s not necessary for all people. Knowing ahead of a diet what your eating focus should be is very helpful. Or if you choose your own diet, please choose one that emphasizes healthy well-rounded eating. It is easier to retain such eating lifestyles long-term.

Do you regularly watch your portion sizes, or have a healthy plan in place for food consumption?



36 thoughts on “Total confusion about portion sizes?

  1. Nel June 1, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    I didn’t even realize the food pyramid changed! Wow, I’m behind. I don’t really watch portion sizes though I probably should. My metabolism is so high though that I just want to eat all the time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 1, 2017 / 2:58 pm

      Your lucky if your metabolism is high. Then you can get away with eating more. Sometimes I guess you have to if it’s really fast, no?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nel June 1, 2017 / 3:00 pm

        Yeah. Like if eat a large meal, I’m hungry again in 3 hours. I have to keep snacks around or I feel like I’ll starve, haha

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 1, 2017 / 3:03 pm

        I do get very hungry sometimes, but I don’t have a fast metabolism. Between my hypothyroidism and weight unfriendly medications I have to struggle a bit. It would do me some good to take my advice to be more careful about the portion sizes. I should lose at least 15 lbs. Then I’d feel pretty slim and hopefully my blood work would be almost (or hopefully) normal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nel June 1, 2017 / 3:07 pm

        It’s also hard when you go out to eat you know? I want more bang for my buck so if I’m going to spend $30 i want a whole plate a food not a tiny tapas plate lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 1, 2017 / 3:14 pm

        That’s true, but what I often do is just eat a portion and then have the rest boxed for another meal(s). Sometimes there is so much that I can take the rest home and feed both my husband and me from just one entree that I ate about 1/3 of. Definitely if it cost $30 that turns out to not be so very costly. If I splurge on something like pasta at my favorite pizzeria sometimes the entree only costs about $8 and I get three portions out of it. I just make a little side salad to go with it. Imagine, that turns out to be only less than $3 a portion. Sometimes that’s even cheaper than cooking at home, though I do cook more healthful food at home.

        Really healthful food can cost a lot of money, can’t it? Like sticking to a food pyramid like above. Veggies, fruit and lean meat racks up the grocery bill. No wonder low income people eat a lot of carbs. The old U.S. food pyramid allowed a lot more grains. I think the new one allows fewer because of issues like high trigylcerides and how it affects people’s blood sugars. That’s my guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nel June 1, 2017 / 3:20 pm

        Yes! I do the same thing. I’ll often over order so I can have leftovers for lunch the next day.
        You’re right. Trying to buy organic and healthy foods costs way too much! I mean sometimes I have to go with the GMO apples because I simply can’t afford the non-GMO organic apples. But they taste the same to me as bad as that sounds but until I can get to a healthy wallet point, I’ll be healthy where I can.
        Another great post! Really made me think and I hope others stop by and input some of their thoughts as well 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight June 1, 2017 / 3:23 pm

        Thanks, Nel. Yes, I also buy mostly non-organic vegetables for my husband and I. But when we had our parrot he ate all organic. Imagine? We treated him better than ourselves. It is so expensive.

        I try to buy humanely raised meats and eggs from humanely treated chickens, but that is so expensive, too. Sometimes I settle for the regular.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jessica Bakkers June 2, 2017 / 1:50 am

    Great point. Portion size is definitely my BIGGEST enemy in the ever-long battle to lose weight. I KNOW my portion sizes are way too big, and when I get full and there’s still three-quarters of my plate left to go, I eat it up because mum always said “you can’t leave the table until your plate is cleared”. Sigh. Conditioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 2, 2017 / 11:22 am

      Hi Jessica. I think a lot of mother’s used to tell their kids to eat everything on the plate. I think that is changing a bit now.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always kept it simple. . I eat for nutrients, chew thoroughly and my brain usually tells me when I’ve had enough. Some however don’t have that “hormone switch” called leptin, which tells them they are full. So if not, I’d encourage normally consuming only about 3 ounces of lean meat (and sometimes I pound it down so it seems larger) then consuming 5x’s more vegetables than meat. Each is uniquely created and it’s a matter of physiology. Or recognition and strength to overcome which is challenging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 2, 2017 / 2:26 pm

      You make great points and suggestions. I remember from Weight Watchers them telling us to eat slowly enough and really question if we are full before continuing to eat.

      Pounding down meat is such a great idea. This works especially well with chicken and pork chops, I think. It makes them cook faster to boot. I sometimes have a hard time eating a full chicken breast.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hussein Allam June 3, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    Very excellent post for the day. You are right, having a varities types of food will be an asset for better body’s health and system immune. So that our body can take different vitamins which our body needs in the purpose of supporting our health, and stay strong 💪as well. Heard aslo,, if we eat multiple apples-more than one or two apples will be the same values and benefits that it exists in once. As the body will acquire benefits from one Apple either you eat 2 or 3 apples. Great share, updownflight! ❤️🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bipolarsojourner June 6, 2017 / 6:23 pm

    a good rule of thumb is a portion is about the size of a closed first. this is independent of food type. someone using this rule would eat a fist sized piece of chicken, a fist size blob of mashed potatoes, a fist sized full of green beans and fist sized piece of pie. I’m sure it doesn’t work for all food but it is a pretty good rule of thumb. the think is the portions change with size whether you are a diminutive 4’10” petite person or a 6’10” giant, the guidelines are the same, one fist full.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 6, 2017 / 7:18 pm

      Hi bipolarsojourner. I have heard this rule of thumb, but I guess I do feel that a doctor might be a good person to consult if there are unique circumstances beyond just height.


  6. Joanna Maguire June 8, 2017 / 11:31 am

    I find portion sizes so difficult to get my head round and definitely think they are my biggest problem in losing weight! I eat pretty healthily and a plant based diet which has done wonders for my blood pressure. Yet I am still overweight and it’s simply because I eat too much. Trying to do the listening to my body and eating till I am 70% full like the Japanese….sometimes I do well…other times….

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 8, 2017 / 12:22 pm

      I grew up eating fast and still do. I think eating slowly helps. Good luck to both of us at losing the extra pounds. I’m glad your blood pressure is now normal.


      • Joanna Maguire June 8, 2017 / 2:00 pm

        I eat quite slowly, just need to get better at stopping. Good luck to us both indeed!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. priyaabali June 11, 2017 / 3:19 pm

    HEY if youre reading this! I would like to invite you on my blog in which i took a challenge of making dishes in a particular time period. I would love for you to read my first update and stay with me through my messy journey. Thankyou

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight June 11, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      Thank you, priyaabali, for inviting me on your blog regarding your cooking challenge. I will make a note to follow your journey sometime this week or next. I’m afraid I’ve had a family crisis and may not be able to get to all that I need to.


      • priyaabali June 11, 2017 / 4:48 pm

        Sweet of you to consider my comment. Would be amazing if you could visit in between and take care. I wish you all tbe positive vibes

        Liked by 1 person

  8. agirlwhowrites July 31, 2017 / 2:54 am

    Thanks for that! I AM usually in control most of the time but….sometimes, SOME times.. -Shifty eyes- Well, I can’t help it, a girl has to binge awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sally August 10, 2017 / 3:40 pm

    Great article. Lots of room for thought. I was so pleased to read Ellie’s comment because that is what I do all the time. I didn’t know there was a name for it though. I eat with my brain engaged, then when my brain tells me I am full, I stop, No matter how much is left on my plate. I throw it away. I call it my ‘tummy clock’,

    Also, I ask for a take away box BEFORE I eat my meal if it is too large to eat in one go. Then I have the next day’s meal taken care of and I am not tempted to eat the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight August 10, 2017 / 3:49 pm

      Thanks, Sally. I am very happy this post has interested so many people and people have given great suggestions (like you) for what has worked for them.

      Ellie is very knowledgeable about dieting. If you’re interested, please do visit her blog. I have definitely found her suggestion to pound down meat very helpful.


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