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What Size is Your Serving?

by Amy McClelland, RD - April 16, 2021

A healthy diet calls for more than just choosing healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and low-fat dairy products. It also means looking at how much you are eating.


How do today's portion sizes compare to those of the past?

Believe it or not, there are only 10 French fries in 1 serving of the popular side dish. Next time you order fries with that, take a second to count how many are in the portion of fries on your plate and notice how many servings of fries you are getting in just one meal. The answer may surprise you!

Food portion sizes have grown quite a bit over time. In the 1950s, a “family size” bottle of soda was 26 ounces. Today a "single-serve" bottle is 20 ounces! And bigger food and beverage portions have more calories. More calories can cause weight gain, and being overweight can put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. 


How much is in a proper protion of the foods I eat?

The key to better nutrition is already in the palm of your hand! Take control of your health with this simple guide to portion sizes.

Fist = 1 cup of cold cereal, milk, or yogurt
Palm = 3 ounces meat, fish, poultry, or 1 serving of nuts
Thumb = 1 ounce of cheese
Cupped hand = 1/2 cup fruits and veggies
Thumb tip = 1 teaspoon nut butters, spreads

Because hand sizes can vary, be sure to compare your fist size to a set of measuring cups and spoons to get started.

MyPlate can also help you choose the foods and portions you and your family need to grow and stay healthy. Explore the MyPlate food groups and find personalized recommendations online at


5 Easy Ways to Control Portion Size

  1. Take a standard serving size of food out of the package. It is easier to control the amount you eat by putting food on a plate or in a bowl.
  2. Avoid eating in front of the TV or while you are busy with other activities. It is easy to lose track of what you’re doing and overeat.
  3. Serve food on plates instead of putting serving bowls on the table. This way having second helpings won’t be quite so tempting if you really aren't that hungry.
  4. Read food labels and measure label servings to see their sizes. This takes a little time and practice, but it is well worth it.
  5. Limit eating out. When you do go out to eat, try sharing an order with a friend or taking theleftovers home. Also, try to avoid “super-sizing.”