A healthy portion size is simply how much food you should be
consuming. It is important to remember a kids portion size, an adult
portion and a teenagers portion is going to be completely different.
When serving your family and creating healthy meal plans, try to
keep this in mind. This page is to help you understand the "right"
portion size for your kids and how much calories your kids
should be getting each day.
Kids Cooking Activities Teaching Materials
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Portions should equal the size of the palm of the hand. A child's
portion should equal the size of their
palm not your palm! Your
palm and your child's hand is very different so keep that in mind
when serving dinner. Today we have so many super-sized and jumbo
packages of products it is hard to remember how much we really
should be eating.
My daughter could easily eat 2 cups of cooked pasta noodles
sprinkled with Parmesan cheese for lunch or dinner. She loves
it. However, I soon realized she was actually eating 4
times a kids healthy portion size. She is a pretty active kid and
I'm certainly not worried about her but perhaps this was something I
needed to become more aware of myself.
Visualize a Healthy Portion Size Plate
In today's world you can super size almost every meal. Kids don't
realize how much of different foods they should or should not be
eating. They just know what tastes good to them and what they want
more of. An important thing, along with serving portion sizes, is to
teach kids to take their time when eating, chew slowly and take
The best way to help your kids learn portion sizes is the divided
plate method. Take a look at your plate and visually divide it in 4
1/4 should be meat/protein equal to a deck of cards or
size of a palm of hand
1/4 of the plate should be whole grains such as breads, pasta
or rice equal to a CD.
1/4 of the plate should be vegetables equal to a tennis
ball/this portion could be ¼-1/2 of the plate
1/4 of the plate should be fruit the size of a yo-yo or
replace fruit with another vegetable
You can even buy portion plates to help with this or make one of
your own using porcelain pens.
Learning Healthy Portion Sizes
Most parents and kids can't guess how much a cup or how much
something weighs by looking at it. This is where visual cues come in
like the size of your palm or size of a tennis ball.
The earlier you teach kids about portion sizes and healthy eating,
habits will form easily.
Examples of Healthy Portion Sizes for Children
2oz. (size of palm)
Milk or juice
small cups equal to 4-8 oz.
1-2 slices or 1/4 cup cubed
1/2 cup cut up fruit
Pasta or rice
1/2 Cup cooked
1/2 Cup cooked or raw
Tips for Portion Sizes
When buying processed bagged products, serving size is located
on the food label. A small single portion of something may
really be a super-sized portion.
Serve snacks in a small snack size cup for help in knowing
exactly how much you are giving out at snack time.
Serve your kids meals with a small amount, maybe a few bites,
to get them started and if they are still hungry they can have
Children and Calories
Counting calories for kids is really not important according to many
nutritionists. Kids can be so active through the day that it is easy
to burn 2,000 calories. However a child that is not as active
through the day may only burn 1,500 calories.
All together kids are better than us adults at being active and
burning calories throughout the day. It is common for kids to run
around, go up and down stairs, ride bikes, play with toys all while
adults sit and read a magazine, fold laundry or talk on the phone.
The most important thing to remember about kids calories is to avoid
empty calories. Empty calories could be candy bars, diet sodas,
french fries, fast food, chips, etc. Kids are taking the calories in
but it is providing no nutritional value to their bodies, hence the
name empty calories. Replace these items or products with fruits,
vegetables, cheese, yogurt or other healthy alternatives.