Nutrition Articles

The Portion Distortion Guide

A List of Serving Sizes

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Selecting the right foods also means choosing portions that are proper serving sizes. The terms "portion" and "serving" are often used interchangeably, but they don't mean the same thing.

A "portion" is the amount of food you choose to eat for meals or snacks (like a plateful of pasta or a handful of raisins). In comparison a "serving" is the amount of food that experts recommend you eat (like 1 cup of milk or 1 ounce of bread). Servings are listed on a food's nutrition facts label too.

When choosing your portion, try to make it as close as possible to these recommended serving sizes.

Grains: Aim for 6-11 servings each day. Choose whole grains whenever possible.

Examples One serving equals That's about the size of
Bread 1 ounce (1 small slice, 1/2 bagel, 1/2 bun) Index card
Cooked Grains 1/2 cup cooked oats, rice, pasta Billiard ball
Dry cereal 1/2 cup flakes, puffed rice, shredded wheat Billiard ball

Fruits and Vegetables: Aim 5-9 total servings each day. Choose fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible.

Examples One serving equals That's about the size of
Raw fruit 1/2 cup raw, canned, frozen fruit Billiard ball
Dried fruit 1/4 cup raisins, prunes, apricots An egg
Juice 6 oz 100% fruit or vegetable juice Hockey puck
Raw vegetables 1 cup leafy greens, baby carrots Baseball
Cooked vegetables 1/2 cup cooked broccoli, potatoes Billiard ball

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Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
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Member Comments

  • I'm kind of intrigued with the thought of a base ball sized glass of milk. - 6/16/2014 12:23:40 AM
  • COOPERREID
    Hi Sparkpeople family,

    I no longer have problems with portion control. I order a diabetic template from the DB, you use this template thats already measured you just put it in the middle of your plate. It tells you when to stop full or half full for vegetables, meat, fruit, or starch. It wasn't expensive. - 2/8/2014 6:39:17 PM
  • BERNARDAG
    Interesting measurements, good guide when we have to eat in restaurants or social events, actually is a little portion, my concern is that checking the ingredients from Spark recipes I can see any control of that, I can see how it comes with a lot oil, flour etc., if I am counting calories in one meal for instance it is over passing . Personally I have to subtract many ingredients of them lest tasty but worthy for me - 11/13/2013 12:03:17 PM
  • 2 dice size of cheese is a tease - 10/9/2013 5:52:19 PM
  • Good guidelines to help keep portions under control! - 10/9/2013 12:54:32 AM
  • Is this portions per each item listed, for one whole meal? - 8/31/2013 11:17:21 PM
  • I think the article is great, I agree with the "Hockey Puck" comment though (and I'm Canadian??) but once you have weighed etc. find your own reference, It's an excellent guideline. - 8/21/2013 9:40:37 AM
  • WIDGET65
    Definitely need visual guides such as these. - 8/10/2013 9:28:40 PM
  • Great article. I need this. It came in right at time for I am not getting the exercise that I need. My hip really getting me. - 7/9/2013 6:44:26 PM
  • This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you! My only suggestion/questi
    on is that I don't know what a "hockey puck" worth of juice is supposed to mean. But it's okay, as I don't really tend to drink fruit juice much anyhow.

    - 6/28/2013 9:49:36 AM
  • BOBBIYSMAEL
    Does anyone know how I can get my profile image on my comments? If so e-mail me at bobbiysmael@yahoo
    .com. Thank you - 5/3/2013 11:34:33 PM
  • BOBBIYSMAEL
    This is good because it will help me watch my portions. Thank you SPARKGUY - 5/3/2013 11:31:57 PM
  • i agree with the hand measurement i i scooped a hand full of almonds once and then counted used my scale and they were exactly one ounce - 5/3/2013 9:25:13 PM
  • CDCCDC1
    Well this was VERY helpful to me, and thanks - 4/28/2013 1:51:46 PM
  • weogh and measure weigh and measure weigh and measure..and carry the stuff with you ..i have a collapsible cup and stuff i carry in a little bag..weigh and measure!!
    the lady mary - 4/4/2013 3:42:13 PM

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