If you’re looking for a simple way to watch your weight and eat healthy, follow this handy serving size chart to understand portions. It’s easier than you think.
Confused by all the different diets being touted as the healthiest way to eat?
One friend will only eat raw food, another has gone full paleo on you, and yet another has sworn off gluten. The good news is, there’s a science-based healthy eating plan that doesn’t require you to give up all the foods you love.
The American Heart Association recommends an overall healthy dietary pattern tailored to your personal and cultural food preferences. This pattern can include a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, fish, skinless poultry, nuts, and fat-free/low-fat dairy products, and should limit sugary drinks, sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats, and salty or highly processed foods. It’s all about making smart choices.
Here are the recommended number of daily or weekly servings of each food type, based on eating a total of 2,000 calories per day. Your calorie needs may be different, depending on your age, activity level and whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. To find your recommended daily calories, use the NIH Body Weight Planner found at https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/bwp/index.html.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to measure everything you eat. We’ve provided a few examples of what represents one serving of common foods. Be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods to understand the serving size and number of servings per package. And be aware of “portion distortion.” The recommended serving size is often less than the amount you’re used to eating or the portion you are served, especially at restaurants.
n Vegetables: Fresh, frozen, canned and dried, five servings per day. Examples include 1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup cut-up vegetables, 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas and 1/4 cup 100 percent vegetable juice.
n Fruits: Fresh, frozen, canned and dried, four servings per day. Examples include 1 medium whole fruit, 1/2 cup cut-up fruit, 1/4 cup 100 percent fruit juice and 1/4 cup dried fruit.
n Grains: At least half should be whole grain/high in dietary fiber, six servings per day. Examples include 1 slice bread, 1 small tortilla, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes, 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal, and 1/2 cup popped popcorn.
n Dairy: Low-fat and fat-free, three servings per day. Examples include 1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt and 1.5 oz cheese.
n Poultry, meat and eggs: Lean and extra-lean; skin and visible fat removed, eight to nine servings per week. Examples include 3 oz. cooked meat or poultry, and 1 egg or 2 egg whites.
n Fish and other seafood: Preferably oily fish that provide omega-3 fatty acids, two to three servings per week. One example is 3 oz. cooked fish or seafood.
n Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes: Five servings per week. Examples include 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 2 Tbsp or 1/2 oz nuts or seeds, and 1/4 cup cooked beans or peas.
n Fats and oils: Preferably unsaturated, three servings per day. Examples include 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (canola, corn, olive, soybean, safflower), 1 Tbsp soft margarine, 1 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise and 1 Tbsp light salad dressing.