Serving and Portion Sizes

A serving is a set amount of food that contains a specific quantity of calories and nutrients.

Servings normally are given in common units (cups, ounces, pieces, etc). For packaged food and drinks, the nutritional analysis is based on serving size found on the Nutrition Facts panel. You need to know a particular food’s serving size to tell how many servings you are consuming. People often have more than one serving at a time. To see how much fat, calories, etc. you really are taking in multiply all the numbers in the nutrition information by the number of servings you have.

Always look at the “servings per container” on the Nutrition Facts panel. Containers that seem to be a single serving such as a bottled beverage could have multiple servings. Be aware that a serving size on a manufacture’s label isn’t a recommendation of how much you should consume. But it does allow you to compare nutritional information of similar products.

A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat or the amount of food a restaurant gives you. It is not usually the same as a serving. Often, portions are larger than one serving. Large portions have been blamed for the increase in obesity in the United States. A key part of reaching or maintaining a healthy weight is portion control.


When Snacking

Measure out a serving of your snack. Pay attention to what that looks like so you can “eyeball” it from then on… Place a small amount of the snack in a bowl… Don’t eat from the package… Choose light ice cream bars instead of ice cream from a gallon container.

When Shopping

Purchase 100% juice in individual containers that keep your portions to eight ounces… Select individual portions of light entrees from the frozen food section… Buy snack foods that are already divided into single servings so you are not tempted by the whole bag or box.

When Eating Out

Avoid Buffets… Ask for a take- away container when you order your food. Place some of the food in the container as soon as it arrives… Share your meal with a companion… Eat slowly so your body has a chance to tell you when it is full.

When Getting Fast Food

If possible, eat an apple before heading out for fast food… Never supersize anything… Order a kid’s meal (they contain what used to be portions for adults!)… If buying soda, choose a small one instead of a large… And don’t refill the cup.

When Dining At Home

Start your meal with a low-calorie, low-sodium soup… Use smaller plates… Don’t keep serving bowls of food on the table… Resist having second helpings…Remember that “cleaning your plate” is unhealthy if there’s too much food on it.