Serving Size vs. Portion Size

Serving Size vs. Portion Size

Healthy eating includes making healthful food choices, which means knowing what and how much you eat. Do you know the difference between serving and portion sizes? While the terms serving and portion often are used interchangeably, they actually mean different things.

A "serving" is the amount of food recommended in consumer education materials such as MyPlate. A "portion" is the amount of a food you choose to eat at any one time — which may be more or less than a serving. Serving sizes per container are listed on the nutrition facts label. A portion is the amount we choose to eat.

For example, a small bag of pretzels may say that it contains two servings, so if you're eating the whole bag, your portion size, you'd have to double the nutrition information per serving to know how much you're eating. It’s important to look at the food label so that you don’t consume more calories than you need to maintain a healthy weight.

Commonly overlooked serving sizes (they are tiny!):

  • Granola: ¼-½ cup
  • Bagels: ½ of a small bagel
  • Cheese: 1 ½ oz.
  • Nuts: ¼ cup

To overcome portion distortion and to downsize your helpings, try these tips.

  • Eat from a plate, not a package, so you know how much you eat.
  • Use smaller dishes, such as a lunch plate for your dinner, so less looks like more.

Once you get a good sense of serving sizes, you can compare them to the portions you eat and make any necessary modifications.

Also, be sure and tell your coach which foods you tend to eat a portion size that is larger than the recommended serving size.

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