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Serving sizes do count

Bigger isn't always better -- especially when it comes to the serving sizes of food.  Over time, a few extra helpings here and there can lead to more calories or fat than you bargained for - and even a few extra pounds!  Try these tips to keep serving sizes in check:

Weigh and Measure
Before you dig into your next meal, measure or weigh each food and compare your serving size to the serving sizes listed on the Nutrition Facts food label.  You'll learn how many calories and how much fat are in your favorite foods.

Check it out
Check serving sizes and calorie information on fat-free goodies like cookies, cakes and other treats.  Fat-free foods may have as many or even more calories than their regular counterparts.

Stay single
If you sometimes overdo it, buy pre-wrapped, single servings of foods.  The savings in fat and calories are worth the extra expense.

Pay attention to the Pyramid
The Food Guide Pyramid provides serving size guidelines for foods in each food group, as shown below:

Food Group

Typical Servings

Bread, Rice, Cereal and Pasta

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 small bagel
  • 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta
  • 4 small crackers


  • 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw


  • 1 medium whole fruit
  • 1/2 cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit
  • 3/4 cup of fruit juice

Milk, Yogurt and Cheese

  • 1 cup of milk or yogurt
  • 1-1/2 ounces of natural cheese
  • 2 ounces of processed cheese

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts

  • 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat
  • Count as 1 ounce of lean meat:  1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, 1 egg or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter


Guesstimate your portion sizes.
Try some of these handy references to help you estimate amounts.

One cup of potatoes, rice or pasta is equal to the size of a fist or tennis ball or the amount that fits in a tea cup.

One bagel should be no bigger than the size of a large to-go coffee lid.

Fruits and vegetables
One-half cup of chopped vegetables is about the size of three regular ice cubes.

A medium apple or orange is the size of a baseball.

A serving of cheese is equal to a pair of dice or a tube of lipstick.  A slice of cheese is the size of a 3.5 inch computer disk.

Meat, Fish, Poultry
A three-ounce cooked serving of meat, chicken or fish is about the size of a deck of cards, a cassette tape or the palm of a woman's hand.

One ounce of meat, chicken or fish is about the size of a matchbook.

One half of a cooked, boneless, skinless whole chicken breast is about three ounces. A three ounce serving of chicken with bone and skin removed is also equal to two thighs, two drumsticks, or one drumstick and one thigh.

One tablespoon of butter or margarine is equal to the amount in one foil wrapped square that restaurants provide.