How to Estimate Portion Sizes and Serving Sizes Video
Nutrition editor Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., shows you how to estimate serving sizes to ensure you’re eating healthy portions.
"Research shows that we often underestimate how much we eat," says Brierley. "So today I'm going to show you what a healthy portion size looks like." Brierley uses ordinary objects to display the appropriate sizes; remembering the sizes of these items can help you eyeball your food choices and keep you from eating too much.
For a serving of fruit, think about the size of a baseball: one medium-size apple or medium-size orange. For berries or cut-up fruit, one cup equals a serving. For dried fruit, however, a serving is a half cup.
A serving of grains such as cooked brown rice or cooked pasta is a half cup. That's equal to about the size of a tennis ball. For cereal, however, count a whole cup as one serving. And watch out for those super-sized bagels: to count as only one serving, your bagel should be about the diameter of a tuna can.
If you’re having corn on the cob, compare the cob length to a pencil to gauge the correct single serving size. For carrots and other cooked vegetables such as broccoli or peas, one cup is a serving. For salad greens, however, two cups count as one serving.
"Dairy tends to vary a little bit," explains Brierley. For a serving of dairy, you get either a cup of milk or a cup of yogurt, or you can have two cups of cottage cheese. For cheese, your single serving should look like six dice; a portion that’s one and a half ounces.
"And last we have the protein group," says Brierley. "A healthy serving of protein is much smaller than what you typically see in a restaurant, or even what you'd find at the grocery store. It's three ounces, and that's about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards." A healthy serving of fish is about the size of an iPhone. If you add one large egg or a quarter cup of cooked beans to one of those other servings of protein, that's about all you need in a day.