Healthy eating means making good food choices. It also means knowing how much you should eat compared to how much you actually eat.
Are you up-to-date on your serving and portion sizes, and do you know the difference between the two?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, they actually mean different things.
A “serving” is the amount of food recommended by the USDA and tools such as such as MyPlate and MyPyramid. A “portion” is the amount of a food you choose to eat at any one time — this can be more or less than a serving.
Pasta is a food that often gets used as an example because of its “wimpy” serving size. According to USDA guidelines, 6 to 11 servings of carbohydrates are appropriate for most people, depending on height, weight, gender, age and activity level.
A serving of pasta is ½ cup, which seems to be small, but considering your whole day, you’re probably able to consume more than ½ cup of pasta at a meal and still be okay.
However, eating a large bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, crackers for a snack and 2 cups of pasta for dinner would be overeating carbohydrates for most people, as this is about 12 servings.
To consume the right number of calories to maintain a healthy weight, you need to know about servings. Then, you need to compare your portions to the serving sizes that are recommended.
If weight loss or balance is your goal, shrinking your portion sizes to equal the serving sizes that are listed below is one simple way to reduce your calorie intake.
Serving sizes as compared to household items:
- A teaspoon of margarine is the size of one dice.
- Three ounces of meat is the size of an iPhone.
- One cup of cereal is the size of a baseball.
- A half cup pasta is the size of a cupped palm.
- An ounce and a half of cheese is the size of four stacked dice or three dominoes.
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter or hummus is the size of a ping pong ball
- Three ounces of fish is the size of a checkbook
Serving Size Saavy Snack:
- Baseball size (1 cup) plain light or greek yogurt
- Shot glass (1 oz) of almonds
- (1 oz) dried fruit, chopped
- Sweetener such as Stevia, Splenda, or honey
Keep in mind, if your portion is bigger than one serving, it counts as more than one serving. Learn the appropriate number of servings per food group for your body from a reputable source or a registered dietitian.