Be a Picky Eater – Watch Your Portions!

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on September 30, 2009

Portion control is KEY to maintaining a healthy weight. You could eat the healthiest food in the world, but if you eat too much of it, you’ll likely still gain weight! And in the world of “super-sizing” – our notion of what one serving is has become ridiculously skewed.

Oftentimes, people ask me how I watch my portions. In an ideal world, you could look at the nutrition labels, measure out what “one serving” looks like, and eat that. But that’s just not realistic! Especially when most of us eat at restaurants or grab food “on-the-go.” One thing I’ve found useful is “eyeballing” what the right portion should be. And I was really excited when I found this article on WebMD that gives real-life examples of what normal portions should look like. The link to the article is here – but I’ve also included examples from the article below. Hope this is helpful!

So to start with – what should you be aiming for in terms of servings? The helpful WebMD folks have compiled a list which I’ve included below:

  • 1.5-2 cups fruits & 3 cups vegetables
  • 6-7 servings grains: ½ cup rice or pasta, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup cereal, etc.
  • 3 servings low-fat dairy: 1 cup milk or yogurt, ¼ cup cottage cheese, 1.5 ounces cheese
  • 5-6 one-ounce equivalent servings protein
  • 5-6 portions (teaspoons) oils and fats
  • 100-300 “extra” calories from snacks, dessert, alcohol or overeating

Example #1: Baked Potato

baked potato1 vegetable serving = 1 small potato = the size of a computer mouse

For an even healthier option, try a sweet potato!



Example #2: Pasta

pasta1 serving of grains = 1/2 cup pasta = 1/2 a baseball

For healthier options: Opt for whole wheat/whole grain pasta for extra fiber, Skip Alfredo or creamy sauces in favor of Marinara

Example #3: Waffles/Pancakes

waffle1 serving of grains = 1 waffle OR 1 pancake = size of a CD

For healthier options: Opt for whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes/waffles for more fiber or order fresh fruit with your dish as a topping

Example #4: Bagel/Muffin

bagel1 serving grains = 1 small muffin = size of a tennis ball OR 1/2 medium bagel = size of a hockey puck

Healthy tip: Get a whole wheat bagel; or instead of a bakery muffin, get a high fiber English muffin

Example #5: Cheese

cheese1 serving dairy = 1 portion cheese = 4 dice

Healthy tip: Get low fat cheese!




Example #6: Meat

meat3 oz portion size = deck of cards or the palm of your hand (minus fingers)

But you only need 5-6 oz per day!




Example #7: Peanut Butter

peanutbutter1 serving protein = 2 Tbsp peanut butter = 1 golf ball

Note: 1 portion size (2 Tbsp) has 190 calories and 17g fat – while this is good fat, you definitely don’t want to overdo it!


Other Quick Portion Size Tips:

  • 1 portion of rice = 1 filled cupcake wrapper
  • 1 portion size of fat = 1 teaspoon = a stack of 4 dimes or 1 poker chip
  • 1 portion size of chips = 1 handful = 6 large tortilla chips or 20 potato chips or 20 mini-pretzels
  • 1 portion size of dessert = 1 small scoop of ice cream = 250 calories

Happy Eating!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia November 19, 2009 at 11:19 am

I came across your blog from foodbuzz. Great post on portion size! Love the pictures showing the actual visual of the portions.


anjalim November 19, 2009 at 11:56 am

Thanks! Glad it’s helpful 🙂


Sam Ruiz November 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm

thanks so much for posting these pictures! they’re exactly what i needed since its hard to actually visualize how much we need with all these super sized restaurant portions.


anjalim November 24, 2009 at 4:27 pm

no problem at all – thanks for the feedback!


Kiddie MD February 3, 2012 at 10:28 am

The WebMD “Portion Size Plate” website allows anyone to check out how big a portion size is compared to everyday objects. The site is at:


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