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portion guide

Eat Your Favorite Foods

While maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can still eat the foods you love if you learn to control your portions. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat, but may not be the same as the serving size you see on a nutrition label. Usually the portion you are served is more than you need to be full and satisfied.


The best way to know how much you are eating is to measure. Use the tips below, to help you better understand healthy portions.

  • A fist or cupped hand is about 1 cup
  • Your palm (no fingers) equals approximately 1 serving (3 oz) of meat
  • Your thumb tip equals 1 teaspoon
  • One handful equals 1–2 oz of snack food
  • Use everyday items to estimate how much food is on your plate (see table below)

Portioning Made Easy

  • Eat only half an entrée at a restaurant or share with a friend
  • Avoid upsizing meals when ordering out
  • Use smaller plates and bowls at home
  • Buy smaller packages of snack foods, such as individual-serving packs
  • Count out the number of pieces in a serving size when it is hard to measure (ex. pretzels)
  • Divide food you cook into the number of servings before you eat
  • Eat slowly and enjoy your food
  • Remember that it takes your body about 20 minutes before you realize you are full

Source: Food Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Recognizing Portions

It’s easy to watch your portions. Just remember to compare your food to these everyday items. If you have some left over, just leave it or share it with a friend. You’ll be amazed how eating the right amounts will still fill you up!

Cheese (1½ ounces)Dice (4, stacked)
Meat (3 oz, beef, poultry or pork)Deck of Cards
Fruit (fresh, whole)Baseball
Rice (1 cup, cooked)Tennis ball
Pasta (2 oz, dry=1 cup cooked)Nickel (diameter)
Cereal (1 cup, dry)Baseball
PotatoComputer Mouse
Oils, mayonnaise, butter (1 tbsp)Matchbook

Source: Weight-control Information Network, U.S Department of Health and Human Services

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