I usually try to grow my cities slow and carefully. I manage the worked tiles so that the city has a food surplus of one or two bread. If I'm close to the happiness/health limit, I try to have one or even no food surplus at all. The advantage of this way is of course that I can work more production/commerce producing tiles, and don't need to worry about my cities running into unhappiness or unhealthiness uncontrolled. Gameplaywise it is a somewhat lazy approach because I don't need to check my cities every other turn to make sure everything is all right EDIT: A downside that sometimes happens that I grow too slowly, and suddenly find I have plenty of health/happiness over, because I didn't watch the increasing limits. But there are other strategies, like growing as quickly as possible to happy/health limit and then stagnate, then as the limit goes up, grow again and so on. During this time ignore production/commerce in favor of food. Would this be generally better than my approach? Or perhaps, grow quickly until you have enough population to work one more mine, then stagnate? Or are there even better ways? Which do you use and why?