Portion vs. Serving
Knowing how many servings are in a portion size is the key to understanding nutrition labels. Keep in mind that serving sizes may bear no relationship to the amount you usually eat. For example, one serving of cooked pasta is ½ cup; however, most restaurants prepare plates with 2-3 cup portions.
Get to know your terms
Portion refers to the amount of food you take and will differ from person to person. While some people will naturally choose smaller portions, others will choose larger ones.
Serving is a specific and measured amount of food defined by the USDA, which are created using common household measurements, such as cups or pieces. Serving sizes, found on the nutritional label in packaged foods, are the USDA’s recommendations for the size of portion you should choose to have a well-balanced diet.
Suggested portion sizes
To give you a visual idea of suggested portion sizes, here are two examples of popular food items and their appropriate portion size:
- 1 (3-ounce) hamburger = deck of cards
- 1 slice of pizza = 2 dollar bills
How much are you really eating?
How much you eat may differ from the recommended serving size on the nutrition label. So how do you know what nutrients you’re actually getting? Follow these steps:
- Check the nutrition label for serving size.
- Judge how many servings you eat.
- Multiply all other nutrients on the nutrition label by the number of servings in your usual portion.
Having trouble picturing what common serving sizes look like? Compare different servings of foods to household items to get a better idea at www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-portion-size-plate.