Nutrition Articles

The Portion Distortion Guide

A List of Serving Sizes

3.5KSHARES
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

Continued ›
Page 1 of 2   Next Page ›
3.5KSHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • Great information! I definitely have portion distortion. A deck of cards for meat?(yikkes) I will be much more mindful on my portion size, I wonder if a food scale would help? Have a great da,y Sparkers! - 2/1/2016 9:09:49 AM
  • I have to use the measuring devices otherwise I either over estimate on some foods and underestimate on others. - 1/25/2016 6:56:12 PM
  • CURVAS20
    I struggle with this... sometimes it is hard to decipher how much are things that I eat. - 1/25/2016 5:00:22 PM
  • Any tabletop gamer would have problems with "one dice" or "two dice," as we've got dice in every size, shape, and material (and Crown Royal bags are excellent for carrying them). - 1/25/2016 1:54:40 PM
  • Portion size makes a big difference. When I started measuring my portions, I realized how much I was over eating. I also feel satisfied and not hugry fast when I eat a wholesome meal. - 1/25/2016 8:28:15 AM
  • I bought a few measuring cups at Dollar Tree, and now I have no excuse not to measure out my foods. They only cost a dollar and I can leave them in cereal say so I don't have to hunt down the right measurement. - 1/25/2016 8:21:10 AM
  • Thank you for guiding us how to measure the portion which is very much help full to learn how much we required as a portion to help in weight lose. Regards. Zeba Rashid - 1/22/2016 3:25:58 PM
  • I think the grains and freggies should be switched- or actually even less grains an dunlimited veggies- meaning I don't need to cut back on vegetables! - 1/12/2016 11:39:21 AM
  • I don't understand why there more servings of grain than fruits and veggies? - 1/12/2016 11:10:00 AM
  • It's way easier for me to just measure than try to visually gauge... espeically since things like beans, veggies, and dry cereal are rarely in a "ball" shape (recommended portion size for these in this list are "billiard balls" and "baseballs.") Trying to guess the volume of these things flat puts more guesswork into the equation. I'll stick with my scale and measuring cups
    - 1/11/2016 9:56:49 AM
  • Pasta is always a problem for me as the kind we use gives calories per portion of the box (1/8 I think) or number of grams. I think that is a dry measure but it is going to weigh more when cooked but I don't know how much more! If pasta is my main meal (eg spaghetti and sauce) which it usually is, (as opposed to a side dish) then 1/2 cup cooked is not going to keep me full very long even when is is whole wheat or multigrain. - 1/10/2016 2:54:41 PM
  • I found it easier to gradually reduce my portions so I was eating less but still satisfied and I continue to loose weight but slower, - 1/10/2016 1:09:39 PM
  • Always appreciate a refresher review of the visualizations for what portion quantities would look like. The 'hockey puck' for juice portions sent my imagination soaring. What kind of container would equalize a hockey puck? - 1/10/2016 11:12:03 AM
  • SWILSON2347
    This article tells me that I have been tracking servings - not portions. I definitely need to be putting smaller portions on my plate and in my bowl. This might be the answer to why I am not losing any weight even though I am tracking my food and logging in my exercises.....of course my love of a glass or two of wine might keeping me off track too:-)
    - 1/9/2016 1:53:10 PM
  • I used to read the nutrition labels all the time. This review made my eyebrows raise up! Somehow a serving of butter has become 1 tablespoon instead of 1 teaspoon for me. A serving of my favorite ham and bean soup has become 3 times what an actual serving of beans should be. Thanks so much for the reminders. - 1/9/2016 8:30:37 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by March 18! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.