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Portion Size Vs Serving Size

Portion Size Vs Serving Size

Is there a difference between serving size and portion size?

My guess is Yes- why you may ask? Perhaps it is because servings and portions have different meanings. I had a discussion with a friend the other day about teaching kids the importance of food servings, my friend laughed so hard and told me that his son was capable of finishing 7 slices of bread at one sitting. Can you guess how old his son is??? Well, let me tell you…. he is 8years old!!

I think most times we overindulge in an excess of food because the food is available. Let us look at this scenario: If there were 8 slices on bread on a plate for 4 people they will automatically assume that they can only have 2 slices each- without trying to seem greedy. But if there were 8 slices on the table for 2 people they would automatically assume that 4 slices each. So how does an 8year old boy get it into his head that he is able to eat 7 slices of bread at one go?

By understanding the term serving size, it will help us as individuals make better food and size choices. Research shows that, twenty years ago a bagel was about 3 inches in diameter and 140 calories. Today’s bagels are about 6 inches in diameter, 350 calories and may count up to three or even four servings in the grains group. Let’s also compare a soda twenty years ago that was about 6.5 ounces and 85 calories. Today, an average soda is 20 ounces and can have 300 or more calories.

This case is no longer an American thing; it’s gone global, thereby leading to globesity. Serving size sounds different until you actually see it. You might think a serving size of banana is 2 or 3, until you see it’s 1. In reality what we see as normal is far from normal. Check out the plate size we use at home or restaurants. Have you noticed when parents serve kids with small/kid plates, their plates are always full? Sometimes when a child is unable to finish such a meal, he or she will be beaten, why? The harsh mentality behind this treatment is because they believe the child in question is wasting food. Why force a child to finish a big size when you can reduce the food size? Such kids learn how to eat huge portions from childhood to adulthood. In their adulthood, they suffer from eating disorders (eating disorders comes in different forms and is not limited to anorexia), overeating is also an eating disorder. We shall discuss that in another post


Internet Image: Child and food abuse


Internet Image: Family serving size (starting from father down to child)

So what’s the difference between Portion and Serving?

Portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat. According to USDA (United State Department of Agriculture) Food Guide Pyramid, serving size is a standard amount used to help give advice about how much food to eat. It also helps us identify how many calories and nutrients are in a food.



Lets look at some healthy serving size for a child (1 serving)

  • 1 cupcake or muffin
  • 1 slice of bread (well well, I’ll say 2 lol)
  • ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, beans etc
  • 1 pancakes (2 aren’t bad lol)
  • 1 cup of cereal
  • ¾ or ½ cup oat
  • 1 apple, banana, orange
  • ¼ cup nuts
  • Palm size meat
  • 10 French fries (I laughed)
  • 1 cup vegetables
  • ¾ cup juice

Portion control ideas

  • Eat snacks from a plate instead of eating from the snack box or bag;
  • Measure out snacks;
  • It’s okay to have leftovers, even in restaurants. Just ask for take away plate;
  • Make it a habit to have fruits after dinner;
  • Have kids help out while cooking, discuss classes of food, functions and why it’s important to eat a serving
  • Serve proper SERVINGS and put away left overs

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