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Safe Food Preparation

Author(s): Roberta Anding, MS, RD/LD, CDE
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Estimating Portion Sizes

Food labels and other guides often use “serving size” to describe a recommended single portion of a food. Serving sizes are different for various kinds of food (liquid vs. solid, or cooked vs. raw). In general, adolescents tend to overestimate portion sizes. The “Nutrition Facts” labels on most foods provide important information about serving sizes and the number of servings contained within a single package. For example, even though most soft drink consumers drink an entire 12- or 16-ounce container at one time, most soft drink labels identify the contents as two or more servings.

Students need easy guidelines to help them estimate appropriate serving sizes of different kinds of foods. Some rules of thumb include the following.

Palm of hand or deck of cards = one serving of meat, fish or poultry.
Size of closed fist or a tennis ball = one serving (one cup) of rice, pasta, fruit or raw vegetables.
Cupped hand = one serving (one cup) of dry cereal.
Two fingers or a domino = one serving (one ounce) of cheese.
Tip of thumb = one serving (teaspoon) of butter or margarine.

Consumption of large food portions, combined with sedentary lifestyles, is linked to overweight and obesity in adolescents and adults.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932