Healthy Habits

Remember! A serving size is not always what you get in a restaurant.

Healthy Habits

Instead of eating out of a box, bag or container, measure out one serving size and put it in a bowl, plate or baggie. Then you won’t be as tempted to dig into another serving unless you are still hungry.

Healthy Habits

If you are eating at a restaurant and the portions are big, try sharing your meal with a friend or family member. Or take half of it home for another meal.

For TeensSizing it Up!

What Is The Latest When It Comes To Making Smart Food Choices

Food labels, plain and simple, are our friends.The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enacted the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act back in 1990. This act required food manufacturers to add nutrition food labels on food packages. Food labels help you to make smart food choices.

Correctly reading food labels (which can be misleading if you miss the fine print!) and measuring serving sizes are key to getting and maintaining, a healthy diet. It's all about empowerment. The ball's in your court. Your serve!

So What Exactly is a Serving, Anyway?

Check out these examples of recommended serving sizes. Are they more or less than you thought? Do you need to eat more or less of these items, or are you right on target?

Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta

1 slice of bread
1 cup (size of a fist) of dried cereal
1/2 cup cooked cereal
1/2 cup cooked rice

Milk, Yogurt, Cheese

1 cup of milk or yogurt
1.5 oz. of natural cheese (size of three dominoes)
2 oz. of processed cheese

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

2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 cup cooked dried beans
2 to 3 oz. of cooked lean meat or poultry (size of a deck of cards)
3 oz. of grilled or baked fish (size of a check book)


1/2 cup of chopped vegetables
1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
3/4 cup of vegetable juice


1/2 cup of chopped fruit
1 medium apple, banana or orange
3/4 cup of fruit juice

Fats, Oils, Sweets

Hey, wait up! These foods need to be LIMITED. This is not a food group.

* Check out the blue illustrations for serving size guides!

So how many servings of each of these food groups should you eat every day? Well this depends on your age, gender and activity level. Go to Enter your age, gender and activity level. Then follow the directions to figure out how many servings of each food group you should have. Since every person is slightly different, ask everyone in your family to try this!

If it says ‘healthy’ on the label

Here's the FDA definition: A food can be labeled “healthy” if it is: low in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and contains at least 10% of the Daily Values for vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein or fiber. If food-makers claim "healthy," this is what they must stick to.

Let’s Try Serving!

Get out your favorite breakfast cereal. If you don’t usually eat cereal, substitute a food that comes in a bag, like chips or crackers.  Here is what you will need for this activity:

  • Cereal (or another snack) in its box, so you can refer to the nutrition label
  • Measuring cups
  • A bowl that you normally eat your cereal out of

First, pour the amount of cereal that you would normally eat for breakfat into the bowl. Then measure how much cereal is actually in the bowl. Finally refer to the nutrition label to see what the company says is a “serving size.” Now, how many serving sizes did you actually pour for yourself?


Use this grid to help with the math:

Cereal Name  
How many cups in your bowl?  
What does the box say is a serving size?  
Then how many servings did you have?  

If you have another box of cereal, see what happens when you repeat the activity. Did you know that cereal companies do not use a standard measure for a serving size?  Serving sizes can range from 1/4 of a cup to 1 and 1/2 cups. If you have more than one serving of the cereal then you would have to do some math to figure out how many calories or carbohydrates you ate.

So what if you are trying to measure a serving size at school or at a restaurant and you don’t want to bust out your trusty measuring cups or spoons? Here are some handy-dandy ways to measure food items so that you can make your best guess as to how much you are eating!


As with any food or beverage we eat or drink, it’s important to know about serving size. We need to be aware of what we’re putting in our bodies. Plus, this information helps us meet the right requirements for servings in each food group every day.

Print out the easy-to-use measuring sheet and the recommendations for the number of servings you should get daily. Put them somewhere in your kitchen. This is a great reminder when you are headed for a snack, that you have some tools to help you choose a healthy one! If you want to see how servings sizes have changed over the years, check out this "Portion Distortion" quiz.

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