How To Estimate Serving Sizes

Weight management requires that you eat healthy food in the right proportions. This guide will help you estimate serving sizes so that you don't overindulge at meals.

Step 1

Breads and Pastas. This food category tends to be the most troublesome. By far, people consume too much bread and pasta. Here is a general list of serving sizes to help you estimate how much you should really be eating.

  • 1 cup potatoes/rice/pasta = ice cream scoop
  • 1 pancake = size of a CD
  • 1 cup cereal = size of your fist
  • 1 slice bread = 1 serving

Step 2

Dairy. You should be especially careful of your dairy consumption, as this food category tends to be quite high in fat. Here are some serving size comparisons in the dairy category that should help you to limit your consumption.

  • 1 ½ oz. cheese = 3 dominoes
  • 1 oz. cheese = your thumb
  • 1 cup ice cream = hard baseball

Step 3

Vegetables. Vegetables are definitely quite healthy for you, but it is still possible to overeat in any food group. Here are some serving size comparisons to help you estimate how many veggies you should eat each day.

  • 1 cup salad = size of your fist
  • 1 baked potato = size of your fist
  • ½ cup broccoli = a light bulb
  • ½ cup serving = 6 asparagus spears, 7-8 baby carrots, or 1 cob of corn

Step 4

Fruit. Fruit contains a lot of natural sugars. So you still need to watch your serving size of it as well. Here are some fruit size comparisons.

  • ½ cup grapes = a light bulb
  • ½ cup fruit salad = filled cupcake wrapper
  • 1 medium fruit = size of a tennis ball

Step 5

Meat and protein. Meat is a popular food category for overeating. Often, people consume twice as much as the recommended daily servings in this category. Follow these portion size comparisons to help you estimate how much to meat and protein to put on your plate.

  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter = golf ball
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter = top of your thumb
  • 3 oz. cooked meat (including fish) = deck of cards
  • 1 serving of chicken (3 oz.) = chicken leg or thigh

Step 6

Fat and snack foods. Junk food is definitely something you need to watch your consumption of. A little fat and sugar can go a long way toward expanding your waist line. These size comparisons should help keep your sweet tooth in check.

  • 1 tsp. butter = top of your thumb
  • 2 tbsp. salad dressing = golf ball
  • 1 oz. nuts/candy = small handful
  • 1 oz. chips/pretzels = two small handfuls
  • ½ cup chips/crackers/popcorn = large handful
  • 1/3 cup chips/crackers/popcorn = medium handful

Knowing how to estimate serving size will be no help to you if you don't know how many recommended servings are suggested each day in each of the food groups. Check with the most recent food pyramid chart (based on your age and gender) to see what is a healthy amount to eat of the previous food categories. And then use the serving size comparisons provided to ensure that you don't overeat.


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: