Did you know? Portions and servings are two different things. A portion is how much
someone puts on a plate, and it can range greatly, from two cups of macaroni and cheese
to three noodles. A serving is how much of an item is recommended by the USDA and Food
and Drug Administration (FDA). (Refer to appendix G in this book for the MyPlate serving
recommendations for children.) Helping children manage their portions is important. Few
people instinctively understand what a serving is, but they can learn to take only what they
need—which will often mimic a suggested serving size. A person can always take more if
she’s still hungry. Doing that is better than piling heaps of food on a plate. To help children,
you can model portion control and use serving utensils that encourage taking appropriate
portions. In a culture of oversized portions, where “More is better” seems to be our mantra,
portion control is an important lifelong skill.
Enough food is provided so all children and teachers can have adequate servings of
everything. Children are encouraged to serve themselves so they can begin to regulate and choose their
The food looks appetizing.
Did you know? Adults don’t like to eat food that doesn’t look appetizing—children are
no different. Take a few simple steps to make sure food is appealing: serve foods at safe
temperatures, cook green vegetables in a way that retains their vibrant color, and provide a
variety of colorful healthy foods at each meal.
Salt, sugar, and fats are not separately available to add after food has been prepared.
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