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    Portion Control: What Does a Serving Size Look Like?

    By By Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Contributing Writer
    January 28, 2013, 7:55:04 AM EST

    Eve was struggling to lose weight. Every day, she poured herself a bowl of low-fat, whole-grain cereal for breakfast. After glancing at the nutrition label one morning, she noticed the serving size was 3/4 of a cup. Eve measured how much she normally ate, and discovered it came to 2 1/2 cups, which is three servings of the cereal.


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    Misjudging serving sizes is a common mistake, and just because something is low in fat or high in fiber doesn't give you license to eat more. Calories are calories, and still add up no matter what the source.

    The difference between portions and serving size A "portion" is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package or in your own kitchen. A "serving" is a unit of measure used to describe the amount of food recommended for each food group.

    Based on her calorie needs, Eve calculated she should have about six servings of grains a day. She chose to cut back to two servings on her morning cereal portion, add extra fruit and save a grain serving for later in the day.

    Though measuring servings can be time-consuming at first, it's not something you need to do forever. You'll just need to do it long enough to become familiar with typical serving sizes. Start by monitoring your portion sizes to see how they compare with the recommended servings.

    What's in a serving? Following are the standard serving sizes listed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The number of daily servings (in parentheses) will depend on your age, sex and level of physical activity. Grain group (6 to 11) 1 slice of bread 1 ounce (by weight) of ready-to-eat cereal (check label for amount by cup) 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta

    Vegetable group (3 to 5) 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or raw 3/4 cup of vegetable juice Fruit group (2 to 4) 1 medium apple, banana or orange 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit 3/4 cup of fruit juice

    Milk group (2 to 3) 1 cup of milk or yogurt 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese

    Meat and beans group (2 to 3) 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans 1 egg 2 tablespoons of peanut butter 1/3 cup of nuts Using everyday items It may be easier for you to estimate servings when compared to the size of everyday objects. Click through to see the serving chart.

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