Estimating Serving Sizes

Deck of Cards Serving Size

It’s no secret that food portions are much larger than they used to be.*

One of the keys to pushing back against “portion distortion” is being able to quickly estimate appropriate serving sizes. Keep in mind that a portion is how much food you actually eat, while a serving is how much food you “should” eat.  A portion can (and usually does) contain multiple servings.

Here are some quick guidelines for estimating serving sizes:

A 3-ounce serving of meat = Deck of Playing Cards or Bar of Soap

A 1.5-ounce serving of cheese = Four Dice (that’s 6-sided, for all you D&D Players out there)

2 Tablespoons Peanut Butter = Ping-Pong Ball

1/2 Cup Cooked Pasta = Your Fist, or what would fit into Your Cupped Palm

1 Cup of Soup or Pasta = Baseball, or what would fit into Two Cupped Palms (as if you were about to splash water on your face), or what you could stack on a DVD.

Medium piece of Fruit = Tennis Ball

Medium Potato = Computer Mouse (think 1995… not a 12-button ergonomic one)

“Regular” Bagel = Hockey Puck (most bagels are two or three servings)

Men’s Health also has an article on serving sizes with some handy visual references.

* Don’t just take my word for it:  Here’s a 2003 University of North Carolina Study, another article comparing 1950 and 2003 portion sizes, and another with some good visual references, and finally — my favorite — an analysis of portion sizes in paintings of The Last Supper (explaining that they’ve grown over the years).

Photo by jima.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments