Often we have to remind ourselves, especially when eating out, that portions we eat can be two to three times (or more!) larger than the proper serving sizes. For example, a serving size of ice cream is one-half cup, but there may be up to 2 cups in your waffle cone. Multiple serving sizes can still be budgeted into your daily calories, but it’s important to be aware of the calories you consume.
If you are at a restaurant or holiday gathering and want to quickly “eyeball” what your serving sizes should look like, here are some everyday items to compare your foods to.
- 1 cup of vegetables looks like a baseball
- ½ cup of mashed potatoes looks like a lightbulb
- 1 cup of cooked pasta looks like a baseball
- A slice of cake (3.5 oz.) looks like a deck of cards
- 1 cookie looks like two poker chips
- 1 ½ oz. of hard cheese looks like three dice
- ¼ cup of almonds (about 23 almonds) looks like a golf ball
- 3 oz. of lean beef or chicken looks like a deck of cards
- 3 oz. of cooked fish looks like a checkbook
- 1 Tbsp. butter or margarine looks like one poker chip
Also important is what percentage of your plate and overall diet is made of healthy items versus the non-essentials, such as sugars, fats, and oils.
Some of the key messages from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are:
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
- Make half your grains whole grains
- Choose low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt
- Try different kinds of protein (meat, beans, eggs, etc.)
- Overall, limit sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar
www.choosemyplate.gov has resources that can answer many of your nutritional questions, such as how much of each food group to eat, how much caffeine is safe, and how to eat on a budget.