The number of children with weight problems has been growing steady over the years. This can be partly attributed to an unhealthy diet, probably high in saturated fat and sugar, and less on the necessary nutrients. It is no secret that everybody seems to be crazy over bigger portions. When you go to your local grocery store, you may no longer find it strange, that the size of certain food items have become bigger and bigger.

To add to that, many restaurants and fast food joints are doing the same. You can get so accustomed to larger servings, that you may already expect bigger fares every time you order. Although you are getting your money’s worth, you may end up paying a higher price because of its impact on your family’s health.

When you think about promoting healthy eating habits in your family, it should not only be limited to choosing the right food items. It is also necessary to consider the right portions. Studies have shown that people tend to eat more, when they are offered bigger portions of food.

With this trend on too much excess, parents need to be aware of the recommended portions for each child. This is essential so that parents can be guided, as to the right amount of servings, for each particular type of food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a very good tool in determining the proper portion size for your kids. The recommendations may vary, depending on your child’s age, gender, and physical activity.

Here is a sample of the USDA’s recommendations for children who get around 30 minutes of physical activity each day:

Age Group

Recommended
Amount For Each Food Group

Grains

Vegetables

Fruits

Dairy

Meats and
Beans

Fats and
Oils

2-3 Years
old

3 ounces

1 cup

1 cup

2 cups

2 ounces

3 tsp.

4-8 Years
old

4-5 ounces

1 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

2 cups

3-4 ounces

4 tsp.

Girls Ages
9-13 Years old

5 ounces

2 cups

1 ½ cups

3 cups

5 ounces

5 tsp.

Boys Ages
9-13 Years old

6 ounces

2 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

3 cups

5 ounces

5 tsp.

Girls ages
14-18 Years old

6 ounces

2 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

3 cups

5 ounces

5 tsp.

Boys Ages
14-18 Years Old

7 ounces

3 cups

2 cups

3 cups

6 ounces

6 tsp.

 

It is also important that you take measures, so that your home is a “portion friendly home” for your kids. When children are surrounded with big packages of food, chances are they may consume more than what they really need. Avoid stocking your pantry with too much food. You may store the excess food in another area in your home, where it won’t be as accessible as your pantry. Try to divide food items into single-serving sizes for snacks. You may also store leftovers in appropriate-sized containers. This is a convenient way of having appropriate portions, and it may also prevent overeating.

Try to eat meals together, and encourage your kids to eat a well-balanced diet. It is also vital that you set a schedule for meals and snacks, so that children will not go on long intervals without food. When hunger is controlled between meals, a child may be less likely to overeat. Try to add more greens and fruits to your family’s diet. Offer salads at the beginning of the meal, and try to serve food at the counter. If you bring the entire pot of dish at the table, a child may be more inclined to reach for seconds. If your child asks for more food, try to offer more vegetables.

When eating out, try to share meals because the portions may be three to four times the recommended size. You may also ask to have half of your ordered food to be packed, so you can take it home. Try to do this before they serve your order. Otherwise, you may end up consuming so much more than what is really necessary.

It is never too late to start healthy practices at home. It may take some time and effort to teach kids about proper portion sizes, but when regularly done, it may set them up for healthy practices for life.