Eating nutritious foods is a great start to a healthy lifestyle. However, one of the most important ways you can improve your diet is one that can be very confusing: know how to watch your portion size. Caloric intake is one of the biggest factors in staying healthy. However, knowing if you are eating the right portion size is one of the more complex aspects of tracking your diet.
the amount of food you put on your plate or the amount offered in the packaging of prepared goods.
a specific amount of food defined by common measurements.
Our Balance Your Plate program debunks portion myths and shares Daily Meal Plan ideas to help you achieve balance. One of the topics it tackles is the difference between a “serving” and a “portion.” A serving is the amount of food recommended by 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.
Here are some helpful tips for determining a serving in several food groups:
- 1 ounce equivalent from the Grain Group can be 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal.
- One cup of pasta is the size of a baseball.
- 1 cup of milk, yogurt, soymilk, 1½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese can be considered as 1 cup from the Dairy Group.
- A teaspoon of margarine is the size of one dice.
- 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit Group.
- One-half cup of fresh fruit is the size of a tennis ball.
- 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the Protein Foods Group.
- Three ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards.
- 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 cup from the Vegetable Group.
- One-half cup of fresh veggies is the size of a baseball.
Also when watching your portion size, think frozen! A portion-controlled frozen prepared meal can easily be complemented by a fresh fruit or vegetable serving offering minimal additional calories yet loads of nutrition. Eating healthy can be easy as long as you keep the right portion in mind.