Size Matters!

Let’s Talk Serving Sizes & Portion Sizes!

Here’s the deal, talking about serving and portion sizes is tricky. Nutrition has evolved quite a bit since we first started talking about it years ago. Much focus was placed on how much we should eat at one time. That’s still not a bad thing to look at, but it’s more important to look at the big picture. In other words, how much of what should you eat daily?

Again, this is a tough question, because as you may already know, there are plenty of things that factor in to your daily food group serving requirements. These things include your age, if you’re male or female and how active you are. MyPlate.gov makes figuring this out a bit easier, but I always recommend discussing your individualized needs with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist! They can help make sense of this stuff for you!

For the sake of this post though, let’s just assume you’re a woman who get about 30 minutes of activity every day (that’s what the USDA assumes on MyPlate). Again, super generalized, but a good place to start. If that’s the case, here are the general recommendations in terms of how much of these foods you should be eating each day.

And in this section, we’re talking SERVING SIZES (the amount you’ll see on food labels and on MyPlate)

Fruit

19-30 y/o = 2 cups/day

31-50+ y/o = 1 ½ cups/day

What counts as 1 cup of fruit = 1 cup fruit, 1 cup 100% fruit juice, ½ cup dried fruit (see link for detailed equivalents)

Vegetables

19-30 y/o = 2 ½ cups/day

31-50 y/o = 2 ½ cups/day

51 + y/o = 2 cups/day

What counts as 1 cup of vegetables = 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables, 1 cup vegetable juice, 2 cups leafy greens (see link for detailed equivalents)

Protein

19-30 y/o = 5 ½ ounce equivalents

31-50 y/o = 5 ounce equivalents

51 + y/o = 5 ounce equivalents

What counts as an ounce-equivalent = 1 ounce meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, ½ ounce nuts or seeds (see link for detailed equivalents)

Grains

19-30 y/o = 6 ounce equivalents

31-50 y/o = 6 ounce equivalents

51 + y/o = 5 ounce equivalents

What counts as an ounce-equivalent = 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta or cooked cereal (see link for detailed equivalents)

Dairy

19-30 y/o = 3 cups/day

31-50 y/o = 3 cups/day

51 + y/0 = 3 cups/day

What counts as 1 cup of milk = 1 cup milk, yogurt or soymilk, 1 ½ ounces natural cheese (see link for detailed equivalents)

So what about those portion sizes?

Ugh, those portion sizes. Still so confusing, right? Especially now that you know the information above. But a portion size actually just refers to the amount of food/beverage you consume in one sitting. And can be large or small. In other words, SERVING SIZE is what’s important here when it comes to figuring out your needs.

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