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How to Visualize Serving Sizes

With the start of new camps and a renewed commitment to a healthy lifestyle, we get a lot of questions regarding serving sizes, portion sizes and how to measure your food.  Here is a simple guide that will help in visualizing appropriate servings sizes:

  • Woman’s fist or baseball—a serving of vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist
  • A rounded handful—about one half cup cooked or raw veggies or cut fruit, a piece of fruit, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta – this is a good measure for a snack serving, such as chips or pretzels
  • Deck of cards—a serving of meat, fish or poultry or the palm of your hand (don’t count your fingers!) – for example, one chicken breast, ¼ pound hamburger patty or a medium pork chop
  • Golf ball or large egg—one quarter cup of dried fruit or nuts
  • Computer mouse—about the size of a small baked potato
  • Thumb tip—about one teaspoon of peanut butter
  • Six dice—a serving of cheese
  • Check book—a serving of fish (approximately 3 oz.)
  • Eyeball it! Take a look at the recommended serving sizes on the new USDA MyPyramid Food Guidance System. Get out a measuring cup or a food scale and practice measuring some of your favorite foods onto a plate, so that you can see how much (or how little!) a ½ cup or 3-ounce serving is. This will help you “eyeball” a reasonable serving!

You should think about something else when it comes to serving size: If you try to substitute one starch for another in your meal place, pay attention to serving sizes. For example, a 1-ounce slice of bread contains about 80 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate, the same as in 1/3 cup of cooked pasta. However, the serving size on a box of pasta is two ounces (dry). Cooked, those two ounces of pasta yield 1 cup, which contains roughly 45 grams of carbohydrate, thus tripling what you had originally intended upon eating.

Further, we often get asked, ‘what’s the difference between serving size and portion size?’

A serving size is a unit of measure that describes a recommended amount of a certain food. A portion size, on the other hand, is the amount of food that you choose to eat. For example, a serving size of corn chips is 1 ounce, or 32 chips. Your portion size, however, might be more like 3 ounces (similar to three handfuls), or close to 100 chips. Portion sizes aren’t necessarily always larger than serving sizes. You might eat only 15 chips, and that would be your portion size.

If you tend to do a lot of reading or surfing on the Internet, be very careful, especially if you are going to base food choices off of these readings: Some articles, books, and Web sites use the terms “serving size” and “portion size” interchangeably. They’re not the same.

The moral of the story, then, is always to look at the serving size, whether on a food label or in food counts book, when meal planning.

Contributors: http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/Blog/Amy-Campbell/serving_size_vs_portion_size_which_is_which/

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