Getting to Know Portion Sizes

Knowing and using the recommended portion sizes for foods is an important part to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Food portions may be best understood by comparing the foods to common household items, weighing them on a food scale, or measuring foods using standard measuring cups. Packaged foods often indicate the number of servings they contain and can be divided accordingly.

Food Group Total Amount Recommended
Per Day
Examples of One Serving Reference
Proteins 5-6.5 Ounces Meat, Poultry, & Fish (3oz.)
Cooked beans (1/2 cup)
Nuts & Nut butters (1/4 cup)
Deck of cards
Tennis ball
Golf ball
Dairy 3 Servings Cheese (1 ½ oz.)
Yogurt (1 cup)
3-4 Dice
Grains 5-8 Ounces Cooked pasta (1 cup)
Cereal (1 cup)
Bread (1 slice)
Tennis ball
Vegetable 5 Servings Raw or cooked vegetables and leafy greens (1 cup)
Baked regular or sweet potato (1)
Mashed potatoes (1/2 cup)
Computer mouse
Light bulb
Fruits 4 Servings Whole apple or orange (1)
Strawberries (1 cup)
Other Berries and Grapes (1/2 cup)
Dried fruit (1/4 cup)
Tennis ball
Tennis ball
Golf ball
Fats Use sparingly Butter, margarine, salad dressing, and mayonnaise (1 Tbsp) Tip of your thumb
Treats Use sparingly Piece of cake (3.5 oz.)
Frozen yogurt or ice cream (1/2 cup)
Deck of cards
Light bulb or
tennis ball

Try these 4 tips to help control your portions:

  • Don’t eat foods straight from the package. Measure out a single serving and put the package away. Purchasing items that come in single serving containers also helps.
  • It’s OK to enjoy a good dessert once and a while, but instead of eating an entire piece, try to eat only half the amount.
  • Eat high fiber or protein foods with your meals, protein and fiber help to keep you fuller for longer.
  • Use a small plate for meals instead of a large dinner plate.

Be mindful of portion sizes when eating out at a restaurant

  • Share an entree with a friend or family member.
  • Divide the meal in half and put one half in a to-go container for a future meal.
  • Order the smallest size meal or the lunch size entrée if possible.
  • Order an appetizer as your meal instead of an entrée.