Getting portion size right is really important for a healthy diet and weight management.
But, what is a healthy portion of food?
With the current trend to super-size meals, it can be really tough to figure out what a “normal” portion actually looks like.
Most people know the basics about nutrition, however, you also need to be aware of just how much you are eating. Believe it or not, this is just as important as what you eat.
Food portion sizes vs serving sizes
A food serving helps you understand how much food is recommended from each of the food groups within the Balance of Good Health, or the Food Pyramid.
In some cases, a food serving may be close to what you actually eat, such as an apple.
At other times, you might serve more than one serving, for example rice or pasta.
A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat.
Since it’s totally impractical to carry weighing scales with you everyday in life to measure out the perfect food portion, being able to estimate what a serving should look like, is really helpful in making sure you don’t overeat.
Often we remember items easier when we can visualise their size, shape or weight, in comparison to something else.
So, relating the portion size of a food to everyday items is an effective method to use, particularly when eating away from home.
Here are some serving size examples…
A rounded handful
One 1/2 cup vegetables or fruit, 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta, or a snack serving of crisps or pretzels
Another way of visualising a serving of vegetables, or one piece of whole fruit
Small handful or golf ball
1/4 cup of dried fruit
1 oz serving of meat, or a serving of cheese
Deck of cards, or the palm of your hand (excluding fingers)
3oz serving (recommended serving) of meat, fish or poultry, or ten chips/french fries
Serving of fish (approximately 3 oz)
1/2 cup of pasta, or a serving of ice cream
Medium baked potato
One serving of pancake or small waffle
Thumb tip or one dice
One teaspoon of margarine
A ping pong ball
Two tablespoons of peanut butter
Small milk carton
8 fl oz glass of milk
8 fl oz cup of yogurt, one cup of beans, or one cup of dry cereal
It is also a good idea to weigh some of your favorite foods, and try to remember what they look like on your plate. You will then be able to see what a 1/2 cup, or 3 oz serving looks like, for example.
This will help you to visualise what an appropriate serving looks like, and it will go a long way to help to prevent overeating, too.
If you’re struggling with your food portion sizes, check out 7 Ways to Downsize Your Portions.