Serving and Portion Sizes: How Much Should I Eat?
The Dietary Guidelines suggests that people 50 or older choose foods every day from the following:
- Fruits—1½ to 2½ cups
- Vegetables—2 to 3½ cups
- Grains—5 to 10 ounces
- Protein foods—5 to 7 ounces
- Dairy foods—3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
- Oils—5 to 8 teaspoons
- Solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS) and sodium (salt)—keep the amount of SoFAS and sodium small
Does this mean you have to measure or weigh everything you eat? Not really. Some people find it helps to measure things carefully at first, but once you get used to your new eating plan, strict measuring probably won’t be necessary. But, what exactly is a serving? And is that different from a portion?
The word "serving" can have different meanings depending on how it is used. A Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Plan serving is how much of each food you should eat to meet the plan’s daily recommendation. (Learn more about serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts label .)
The term "portion" means how much of a single food is actually on your dish—a portion size can vary from meal to meal. For example, one restaurant might serve larger portions than another.
Here are some pictures to help you understand about how much you are eating.
One cup cooked vegetables, salad, baked potato = baseball
1 to 1½ ounces cheese = four dice
Three ounces of meat or poultry = palm of hand
Here are some more pictures to help you understand how much you are eating:
Half cup fruit, beans, rice, noodles, or ice cream = cupcake wrapper, half of a baseball
One teaspoon margarine or oil = tip of first finger
One pancake or tortilla = compact disc
For More Information About Eating the Right Amount for Healthy Aging
Choose My Plate
Content reviewed: June 11, 2017