Portion size guide

Portion size guide

Use your fist to get the gist

concept photo for a portion size guide

A guide to appropriate portion sizes can be generally based on the size of your fist. Your fist is about the size of your stomach when it's empty.

But of course, stomachs can expand. It's important to teach a child to stop eating when he is satisfied. It also helps to put the right amount of food on the plate. We all tend to eat more when there's more to be eaten. The Japanese have a wonderful concept: hara hachi bu, which means eat until your stomach is 80% full.

The number of servings are approximate for children based on age, activity, gender, and body build. Use your judgment, recognizing that most children gain 5 pounds and grow 2 inches yearly.

Let your children determine how much they eat, as long as the food is healthy, the portions are not excessive and they are growing and gaining appropriately. When you exert too much control, children may not learn how to regulate their own appetites.

Here is a useful chart of what your child needs daily. And remember to teach them from an early age, that there's no room for deserts and sugary or low nutrition foods if there's no room for vegetables. They might not like the taste of everything they eat, but it can take up to 15 exposures for them to like it. 

Preschool children /
Inactive girls
School Aged Males /
Teen Girls 
Active Teen Males
Meats2 servings *2-3 servings3 servings

* Fist Size

**Dairy or calcium-fortified (see our tool on alternative milks)

***High fiber preferred