Portion Sizes - What Caregivers Need to Know

Caregivers in Mount Olympus UT

One of the responsibilities of many family caregivers of elderly adults is preparing healthy meals.  It is very important for elderly adults to eat a healthy diet as it helps them to have better quality of life, prevents serious illnesses, and helps them to manage chronic medical conditions.  Most people know the basics about eating healthfully such as including more fruits and vegetables into meals, eating more fiber, and cutting back on sugar, sodium, and fat. 

While these things are certainly important, another aspect of healthy eating that oftentimes gets ignored is portion control.  Portion control is especially important for older adults with diabetes and who are trying to lose weight due to health problems.  It can be difficult to lose weight even while eating healthfully if portion sizes are not correct.  So, for caregivers who prepare meals for loved ones, it is a good idea to be aware of what proper portion sizes of different foods look like so that you can make healthy, well-balanced meals.  Here are a few tips for determining the correct portion of healthy foods for your loved one:

Pasta, Rice, Oatmeal, and Other Grains

The recommended portion size for cooked grains is 1/2 cup.  This is equal to one carbohydrate serving.  When you and your loved one are out to eat or don’t have a measuring cup on hand, visualize the size of a hockey puck to determine what 1/2 cup looks like.  Other healthy portions of carbohydrates include 3/4 cup of cold cereal (like corn flakes), 1 slice of bread, and 8 whole wheat crackers. For a healthy diet, aim for about 6 servings per day of grains, making at least half of them whole grain.


A healthy diet should include 4 servings of fruit per day.  When eating fresh fruit, think of the size of baseball to determine if a fruit is about one serving.  You can use this method for apples, pears, oranges, plums, peaches, and other round fruits.  When it comes to berries or chopped fruit, a serving is about 1/2 cup.


Most elderly adults will need about 4 servings of vegetables each day.  A serving is about 1/2 cup of chopped veggies or 1 cup of raw, green, leafy vegetables.  One other key to keeping meals healthy is making sure to include a variety of different vegetables. 


Elderly adults should aim to have 2-3 servings of low-fat or non-fat dairy each day.  This may include 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, and/or 1 and 1/2 ounces of cheese (about the size of 6 dice).

Lean Meats and Seafood

Your loved one should be eating about 3-6 ounces of lean proteins per day, but it can be hard to determine if they are eating the correct amount unless you have a kitchen scale on hand.  Visually, a serving of fish will be about the size of a checkbook and a serving of other cooked meat will look like the size of a computer mouse. 

Source:  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Suggested-Servings-from-Each-Food-Group_UCM_318186_Article.jsp#.Vyt_bjZqHzI

If you or an aging loved one are considering help for family caregivers in Mount Olympus, UT, contact the caring staff at Interim Healthcare. Call today 801-401-3515. 


Michael and Marlena Hawkins, Owners, Interim HealthCare, Salt Lake City, UT 

Interim HealthCare of Salt Lake City has been in business since February 2014, providing in-home personal care and support services that help our elderly and/or disabled neighbors live enriched, safe and independent lives. Our goal is to provide customized care and support services that make it possible for our clients to remain in the comfort of their own homes rather than relocate to an assisted living facility.  Interim HealthCare is family owned by Michael and Marlana Hawkins, and is a Veteran Owned Small Business.   

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