A Serving Size Defined

Serving Size Defined…

It is shocking how many people have absolutely no idea what a serving size is of the most basic items in a food group. This can be attributed to the fact that, as a society, we have grown so accustomed to reading what it is on a box, a can, or a bag of food that we have not learned anything ourselves about the caloric count of what we eat. It is no wonder we are a largely obese nation. Not only is it irresponsible to trust that food companies report their information accurately, but to also trust yourself to measure out the 7 chips it reports on the bag in order to stay within the 140 calories it says those 7 chips contain. Since when are there seven in tact chips in a bag anyway?

A good rule of thumb is to memorize the chart below and utilize visual cues to identify serving sizes.

The following information delineates the approximate gram counts and calorie counts per serving of a major food group.

  • Carbohydrates: 1 serving = 15 grams/80 calories
  • Protein: 1 serving of lean = 7 grams/55 calories, 1 serving of extra lean = 7 grams/35 calories
  • Vegetables: 1 serving = 15 grams/25 calories
  • Fruits: 1 serving = 15 grams/60 calories
  • Fats/Oils: 1 serving = 5 grams/45 calories

Here is this information in real-life examples for you as well:

  • Grains/Starches (15g = 1 serving) includes:

1 slice of bread, 1 roll, ½ C cereal, rice, or pasta, ½ tortilla, 6-8 small crackers, ½ bagel, pita, English muffin, or bun, ½ C potatoes, peas, or corn, 1/3 C beans

  • Fruit (15g = 1 serving) includes:

1 piece medium fruit (ex: kiwi), ½ C cut fresh fruit, ½ C fresh juice, ½ C apple sauce (natural), ¼ C dried fruit (no sugar added), 15 grapes

  • Dairy (15g = 1 serving) includes:

1/2C milk substitute, ½ C Soy-based yogurt, Note: cheese is not dairy, it’s protein

  • Vegetables (15g = 1 serving) includes:

½ C cooked veggies, 1C salad greens, 1C raw veggies, NO include: carrots, peas, or potatoes in this category-they are starches

  • Protein (7g = 1 serving) includes:

¼ C Tuna (canned), 1 oz or slice of soy cheese, 2 oz of crab, lobster, or shrimp, 1 slice luncheon meet, 1 oz. poultry, fish, pork

  • Fats/Oils (5g = 1 serving) includes:

1 tsp butter/margarine, 1 tsp peanut butter, 1 TB of most dressings, 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp seeds or nuts

Let’s take this and make it even simpler…

If you are out to eat and cannot decide how to make this more user-friendly, you can visualize the proper portion sizes easily with these helpful visual clues.

For example, a serving of protein at a meal should be no larger than the size of your palm. When you think about that, you can start to conceptualize just how oversized our protein portions tend to be when we eat out!

You can utilize the plate method where, at lunch and dinner, you make sure that half of your plate is vegetables while meat and starch only take up 1/4 of the plate each.

Another good example, is understanding the size of a regular slice of bread-which should not be the size of your head like most of the bread loaves out there are these days. A slice of bread should be the size of a 4×6 photograph, not an 8×10.

A measurement of 2 tablespoons (the average salad dressing serving size) is about the size of a golf ball.

If you can, to teach yourself and get the hang of serving size, do try to use a gram scale and measure things at home. It is the most accurate way to ensure you have the measurements correct. However, if you are out and need some help, this information is the best way to approach the appropriate serving sizes.

NutritionAshley Pettit