Monday, 4 July 2011

How Much Is A Food Serving Size?

Do you know how big a serving of rice should be? Or how many servings of carbohydrates you should eat each day? While we might be familiar with the mantra of ‘5 a day’ for fruit and vegetables, other food groups have their own recommended number of servings as well.

But even if you know how many servings of bread or dairy you’re supposed to eat each day, that doesn’t necessarily make it clearer if you don’t know how big a serving actually is or what a serving size looks like. The whole business of servings and servings sizes, not to mention portion sizes can be complicated.

However, once you understand what constitutes a serving, you can use this knowledge as a handy way of keeping your weight on track, especially if you don’t want the bother of counting calories.To help make it clearer to understand what a serving size looks like, I’ve compiled a chart showing some example serving sizes and how many you should aim to include in a healthy diet each day.

In each case, the recommended number of servings ranges from those with the least energy requirements to those with the highest energy requirements. For example, starchy foods and grains should account for 5 to 14 servings each day, so sedentary people should stick closer to 5 servings while those who are highly active should be nearing 14 servings.

Starchy Foods and Grains: These are important sources of carbohydrates and should form the basis of your diet, accounting for around one third of your daily food intake. Try to include 5-14 servings of this food group each day, especially wholegrains rather than the refined white variety.

 Food  One Serving Equals
1. Bread1 medium slice wholemeal bread
2. Cereal3 heaped tablespoons breakfast cereal
3. Rice & pasta2 heaped tablespoons (cooked)
4. Potatoes1 small potato (egg sized)
5. Bagel Half a whole-grain bagel
6. Sweet potatoHalf a large baked potato
7. Tortilla1 medium flour tortilla

 Fruit and Vegetables: Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables provides an excellent source essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can help improve overall health while warding off diseases. They’re also great when you’re dieting because you can eat lots of them, they fill you up and most have few calories. Aim to eat, at the very least, 2-3 servings of both each day.
 Food One Serving Equals
1. Tomatoes1 medium or 7 cherry sized
2. Salad leavesA regular sized cereal bowl
3. Cooked vegetables (broccoli, carrots)3-4 heaped tbsp (cooked)
4. Corn on the cob1 whole
5. Cucumber 5cm (2 inch piece)
6. Apple, pear, orange, peach, kiwi fruit 1 medium piece
7. Dried apricots4 halves
8. Strawberries 7 medium sized
9. Satsumas, mandarins, clementines2 fruits
10. Dried raisins or sultanas1 tablespoon
11. Grapefruit Half only
12. MelonHalf inch wedge
13. GrapesA handful (15-20)
14. Fruit juice (100%)150ml or 5 fl.oz.

Milk and Dairy: These are great sources of protein, vitamins, minerals and calcium to help keep bones and teeth healthy and strong. Stick to low fat or fat free varieties where possible and try to include 2-3 servings in your diet each day.
 One Serving Equals
1. Cheese (hard ie Cheddar)40g (1.5oz.) matchbox size
2. Milk or soya milk 200ml (7.5 fl.oz) tall glass
3. Soft cheese (cottage, spread etc)125g (small cup)
4. Low fat yogurt150g (small yogurt pot)
5. Smoothie or milkshake200ml (large mug or tall glass)

Proteins: We need to eat protein each day as this essential nutrient isn’t stored in the body. Most people manage to eat some protein each day which is mainly sourced from meat and fish. Vegetarians can obtain their protein from nuts and seeds, beans, eggs and soya. Include 2-3 servings each day (5-6 ounces).
 One Serving Equals
1. Cooked poultry, lean red meat, fish85-100g (3-3.5 oz.) deck of cards size
2. Dried beans (haricot, black eyed etc)3-4 tablespoons uncooked
3. Eggs 2 medium sized
4. Peanut butter2 tablespoons
5. Nuts and seeds 3 tablespoons
6. Shellfish (prawns, scallops)100g (3.5 oz)
7. Tofu 100g (3.5 oz)

Visualising what servings sizes look like can really help when it comes to serving up food. Rather than guessing what 3 ounces looks like, visualize an object which is similar in size. For example, a portion of rice or pasta is around the size of a tennis ball. A portion of cheese is similar to a matchbox. And for meat, chicken or fish imagine a deck of cards. You’ll find it far easier serving up the right amount.

Or better still, why not keep a handy visual guide in the kitchen, such as the Carbs & Cals: Count your Carbs & Calories with over 1,700 Food & Drink Photos! It contains over 1,400 photographs of popular food and drink items, clearly showing the amount of carbohydrate, calories, protein and fat in each photo, so you no longer need to play guessing games with serving sizes.

© Diets and Calories 


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