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The Skinny On Portion Control

Michelle Mirizzi • MS, Registered Dietitian • Mar 26, 2012

The Importance of Serving Sizes

One of the best ways you can help your child live healthy and maintain a healthy weight is to teach them what an actual serving size looks like.  Knowing what a healthy serving size is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight throughout life.
Children can use this knowledge to make healthier choices when eating at school, having snacks or even choosing from a fast food menu.
Many people get confused when they hear the words "serving sizes" and portions.

USDA Food Groups - Servings

Servings are the measured amount of a food from one of the food groups.  The amount is defined by the USDA.
Servings for each of the food groups:
Vegetables  1/2 - 1 cup depending on vegetable
Fruit        1/2 cup or 6 fluid ounces of juice
Grains    1 ounce or 1 ounce equivalent
Dairy      1 cup for liquids or 1 ounce
Protein    1 ounce or 1 ounce equivalent

Serving Sizes

Serving Size refers to the amount shown on the food label.  The amount will vary depending on how the food manufacturer defined one serving size.  For example, if you compare cereals, some cereal manufacturers will define one serving size as 1/2 cup and another cereal food manufacturer will define a serving size as 1 cup.  This is why it is so important to look at food labels.  Food labels tell you how much calories and nutrients in one serving.  But a package could have 5 servings in it.


Portions refer to the amount you choose to put on your plate.  For example, you might have a 6 ounce steak.  That is equal to 6 servings from the meat group.








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Written by Michelle MirizziWritten on Mar 26, 2012Last updated on Oct 26, 2015




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