What Is a Serving Size?

by | Sep 23, 2011 | Health Habits, Nutrition Support, Uncategorized

What Is a Serving Size?

Perhaps the single most confusing term in the diet lexicon is the term “serving size”. Some people think that serving size refers to the quantum of food that is put on a plate and that this serving size differs from people to people and place to place. They would often say, “For example, if you go to a classy restaurant, the serving sizes are so small whereas at our local diner, they are large”. From a layman point of view, they would be right. However, when it comes to diet, the term “serving size” has an altogether different meaning.

Adding to the confusion is the serving size as mentioned on labels of various packaged foods we pick up at a superstore. Their definition of a serving size is totally different and should not be confused with the dietary definition of “serving size”.

In dietary terms, serving size refers to a specific quantity and does not differ from place to place.

The serving sizes are fixed by Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion for an adult human irrespective of age, gender, geographic location or activity level. For example, a single serving size of fruit (any fruit) would be the size of a baseball. Serving size of a glass of fruit juice is exactly 6 fluid oz and nothing more. You cannot take a large beer mug full of fruit juice and say you had a glass of fruit juice.

According to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, adult human consumption per day should not exceed 2 to 3 servings of dairy products, a similar quantity of Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts (i.e. 2 to 3 servings in total and not 2 to 3 servings of each), 3 to 5 servings of veggies, 2 to 4 servings of fruit, and 6 to 11 servings of Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta.

Here’s what a serving size for foods we eat looks like:

Food Serving Size
Fruit: 1 Medium 1 Baseball
Fruit juice: 6 fluid oz. Juice glass
Vegetables: 1/2 cup Bulb part of a light bulb
Bagel: 1/2 small 1/2 of a packaged English muffin
Bread: toast 1 slice Slice from standard loaf
Cold Breakfast Cereal: 1 cup (8 oz) Standard teacup
Pasta or rice: 1/2 cup cooked Cupped palm
Meat, chicken, fish: 3 oz. Palm of a woman’s hand
Beans (kidney, pinto, etc.): 1/2 cup (4 oz) Bulb part of a light bulb
Eggs: 1 (replaces 1 oz. meat) 1 Large egg
Peanut butter: 2 tablespoons Size of 1 whole walnut shell
Cheese: 1 ounce (oz) 2 dominos
Milk, yogurt: 1 cup Standard yogurt container
Soy milk: 1 cup Standard yogurt container
Chips, snack foods: 1 ounce (about 1/2 cup)
Butter: 1 teaspoon (tsp.) 1 pat
Salad dressing: 1 tablespoon (T or tbs) 1/2 walnut shell full
Sugar: 1 teaspoon 1 packet
Cream Cheese: 1 tablespoon 1 packet
Whipping Cream (Light): 1 tablespoon Size of 1 marshmallow
Half and Half : 1 tablespoon 1/2 walnut shell full

Now that you know what a proper serving size is,

see how people perceive the serving size info on nutrition labels nowadays because of portion distortion.