Portion Sizes – What Does a Serving Look Like?

No matter what kind of food you enjoy eating, how much of it you consume matters. Even if you eat nutrient-rich food, it’s a good idea to stay mindful of what you eat so that you can maintain a balanced diet. 

But how are you supposed to keep track of what’s going into your body? Is it by portion sizes or serving sizes? In many cases, these are two different measurements. Here’s what you need to know about these two measurements and how you can make sense of creating healthy portions. 

What is a Serving Size?

A serving size is a standard measurement of food that you’ll find on a nutrition fact label of most packaged foods. For example, depending on the food in question, a serving size might be stated as 1 slice, 1 cup, 10 g, or some other common measurement. 

What is a Portion Size?

A portion size is simply the amount of food you eat. It may or may not be equal to a serving size. It could be more or less. 

How Serving and Portion Sizes Have Changed

Few people have a strong understanding of how much food they really eat. And portion sizes have increased dramatically in recent years, leading to problems like obesity and other serious health concerns. 

According to an American Heart Association study, adults today consume 300 more calories on average daily than they did in 1985. Portion sizes have continued to grow over the past four decades. And Americans eat out more than they did in the past. Even the size of some packaged food, like bagels and cookies, has grown substantially, impacting serving sizes. 

What Does a Healthy Portion Look Like?

It’s important to note that serving sizes listed on nutrition labels are not a recommendation of how much you should eat. Instead, they are a benchmark for measuring and comparing the nutritional value of similar foods. So, if you compare two cans of green beans side by side, you can look at the nutritional value per serving. 

A healthy portion is probably going to vary based on your nutritional needs. So, one person might eat four crackers out of a box, which is the listed serving size, and another might eat five or six. 

A portion is simply how much food you choose to eat at one time, which is subjective. So, how do you know what a healthy portion looks like? Whether you’re cooking food or just putting it on your plate, you can use a few visual tools to measure your portions. 

  • An average-sized fist will be about the same as a 1 cup. This is an appropriate portion size for whole fruit, cooked or raw vegetables, and fruit juice. 
  • A tennis ball is about the same size as a ½ cup. This is also equal to about 1 ounce for food items like pasta, oatmeal, and rice. 
  • The palm of your hand or a deck of cards is about the equivalent of 3 ounces. This is an appropriate portion size for chicken, beef, fish, and other meats. 
  • The tip of your finger, or the size of a postage stamp, is about the same as a teaspoon, which is a good measurement for things like oils and other fats. 

Deciding How Much to Eat or Drink

Serving sizes listed on Nutritional Facts labels can easily be misconstrued as advice. Understandably, it’s difficult to determine the right amount to eat or drink, especially since everyone’s body is different. Here are a few tips to help you figure out the best strategy:

  • When eating out, try choosing smaller portions when available or splitting your meal in half.
  • Use tools like the National Institutes of Health Body Weight Planner to help you balance your activity levels and caloric intake.
  • Refer to the Nutritional Facts Panel on the food you purchase to understand the nutritional value of each serving. 
  • Eat slower to allow your stomach to adjust to your body’s hunger cues. In time, you’ll realize that your hunger is satisfied with less food than you think. 
  • Emphasize quality over quantity with your food choices. When you savor delicious food and beverages, they’ll be more satisfying. 

Get Delicious and High-Quality Food at Nick’s of Clinton

The right portion and serving sizes are more appetizing when you have delicious food on your plate. At Nick’s of Clinton, we offer the meat, dairy, produce, and other foods you want. Nick’s offers a full-service meat counter and deli as well as some of the tastiest prepared foods in the area. 

Visit our store today or contact us with any questions. We look forward to being a part of your healthy eating journey. 

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