Serving Size vs. Portion Size
Learning how to read and interpret the food label can be hard work. Did you know that there is a difference between the serving size you see on a food label and the term portion size? Though they are not the same, some articles, books, and web sites use the terms interchangeably. Let’s take a closer look.
The term serving size is always listed on food packages on the nutrition facts panel. This number refers to the amount of food that is commonly eaten at one time. Serving sizes are determined from nationwide food consumption surveys. You might have noticed that foods measured in bulk, like cereal or flour, are usually listed in common household
terms such as cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, or fluid ounces. Foods that are divided up to serve more than one person, like pizza or cake, are listed as fractional amounts such as ¼ pizza, 1/12 cake. Serving sizes for foods that come in “discrete units”, like bread and cookies, are listed as “1 cookie (30grams)” or “2 slices bread (50 grams)”.
Though some serving sizes may seem very small and unrealistic, being aware of these amounts is very important. Every single nutrient on the nutrition facts panel is based off of the serving size. If you eat twice the amount, each nutrient will have to be doubled. If you eat half the amount, the nutrients will have to be cut in half.
This leads us into portion size, or the amount of a food that you choose to eat. For example, a serving size for most ice creams is ½ cup (about 1 scoop). Your portion size, however, might be more like 2-3 scoops. Keep in mind, portion sizes aren’t necessarily always larger than serving sizes.
Being mindful of portion sizes is a great way to allow you to enjoy all foods in moderation. Here are a few tips to help you keep portion sizes in check. For more information check out our Portion Size brochure on shopriteforms.mywebgrocer.com/wellness.aspx
- Don’t eat directly from a package. Always portion it out first.
- Use smaller plates and bowls for meals and snacks (try a dessert plate instead of a regular dinner plate).
- Order an appetizer as your main course or split an entrée with a friend.
- Eat small portions every 3-4 hours so you don’t let yourself get too hungry which often leads to overeating at your next meal.
- When in doubt, measure it out. Keep measuring cups and spoons easily accessible.
Try eyeballing portion sizes with everyday household items.
1 cup fruit/veggies or raw leafy greens– 1 baseball
2 tbsp dip (hummus, guacamole)– golf ball
½ cup fruit/veggies – a light bulb
2 oz lunchmeat- 2 compact discs
1 ear of corn – the length of a pencil
¼ cup nuts- golf ball
1 baked potato – computer mouse
1 oz dried fruit- golf ball
1 ½ oz cheese – 3 dice
1 medium fruit- baseball
8 oz yogurt – 1 baseball
1 tbsp butter, mayonnaise – poker chip
½ cup cooked beans – a light bulb
1 bagel- 6oz tuna can
3 oz cooked meat or poultry – deck of cards
1 slice bread- compact disc case
3 oz cooked fish – checkbook
1 cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta- baseball