How much is a serving?

Over the last thirty years, serving sizes have dramatically increased for consumers who eat outside of the home frequently. At times, it’s common practice for fast food chains to offer two-for-one deals to prompt excessive consumption of their products. Or for a small additional price dramatically increasing the portion size by offering super size options. This enticement of bigger, may even be perceived as healthier, and value is to tempting for many of us to pass up. As a consequence we are consuming excessive amounts of fat, sodium, sugar, and most of all calories – well in excess of our body’s daily needs.

The food service industry is aware that consumers are spending more of their food dollar away from home; always looking for the full meal deal. Consumers are continually faced with tempting choices when making food choices. Even with posted nutritional information, consumers are ignoring the numbers and ordering their favorites, at any price. The obesity epidemic is a testimony for all of us who are served an overload of calories each and every time you order out.

This may all be true. However, severing sizes have also gradually increased at home. American’s must realize that the large portion size trend has come to the home front; even though consumers are eating less at home. Many of us have become compliant with the convenience of society and feel okay with the every day overindulgence.

Consumers eating away from the home are often times attracted to branded foods (beverages) and take home to eat foods from the grocery store. Below is a simple reminder of the severing sizes appropriate for the average adult eating at home or away from home. A single serving may be less food than you think. Food portions are larger than ever these days—usually much more than we need. Choose your starting portion size by relating food to everyday items.

3 ounces of meat or fish: Deck of cards.

1 cup of vegetables: Size of your fist.

Medium apple: Size of a baseball.

1/2 cup of cooked pasta: Ice cream scoop.

1 1/2 oz. cheese: Pair of domino’s.

1 teaspoon butter or margarine: Tip of your thumb.

1 cup dry cereal: Large handful.

Meat or Fish: A serving of meat, fish, or poultry is equal to a deck of cards.

Fruits & Veggies: A serving of fruit or vegetables is about the size of a tennis ball.

Nut Butter or Salad Dressing: A serving of nut butter or salad dressing is about the size of a ping-pong ball.

Toddler Portions: For toddlers, the right portion size is the size of the palm of their hand.

1 Portion: Start with one portion of each food on your plate. If you are still hungry, you can always get more.

MyPlate Model: Fill half of your plate with veggies or fruit, ¼ with protein, and ¼ with starch, preferably a whole grain.

Check Package: Check the serving size on packaged foods for guidance on portion size

Sit Down: Eat your food while sitting down and using a plate or bowl. Avoid eating directly out of packages.

Eat Regularly: Eat regularly throughout the day; this helps keep you from getting too hungry.

Use Smaller Plates: Serve food on smaller plates.

Restaurants: At restaurants, ask for a lunch-size portion, split your meal, or box up half to take home.

Savor Your Food: Slow down, start with smaller portions, savor your food, and eat only until you are satisfied instead of “cleaning your plate”.

Be A Role Model: Role model the behaviors that you want your children to develop.