Portion control is an important component of losing weight and keeping it off. Larger portion sizes encourage people to eat more calories unintentionally, leading to excess calorie intake and possible weight gain. Conversely, eating portions of fruits or vegetables that are too small means that you may not get the nutrition you need each day.
Chopped Fruits and Veggies
One serving of chopped, raw veggies or fruits is 1/2 cup. This amount is about the size of a baseball or a woman's fist. For fruits and berries that do not need to be chopped, the portions are a little different. Fifteen grapes are in one serving. One serving of blueberries is about 1 cup of small berries.
Whole Fruits and Veggies
Determining the correct portion size for whole fruits and vegetables can be difficult because the portions cannot be measured in a conventional way, unlike what you are able to do with chopped fruits. Visual clues can help you eat the ideal portion size. For example, one serving of orange or apple is one medium fruit, around the size of a tennis ball.
Raw Leafy Greens and Starchy Vegetables
One cup of raw leafy greens equals one portion. This amount is about the size of a fist. One 1/2-cup portion of corn is one serving. This amount translates to about half of a corn cob. One 1/2-cup portion of mashed potatoes is one serving, and about one-fourth of a large baked potato is one serving. One 1/2-cup serving is the standard portion size for yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips and succotash.
Controlling Portion Sizes
Always dole out your food into the correct portion size before eating it. Even when you are eating a low-calorie food -- 5 calories per large baby carrot, or five to six large baby carrots for a full serving -- grabbing food straight from a bag encourages mindless eating and you may end up consuming more calories than you intended. Portion your serving of food onto small plates. One serving of salad may look measly on a large plate, but the amount looks appropriate on a smaller plate. This visual trick may stop you from eating a portion that is too large. Dine at the table instead of in front of the television to avoid distraction. Eating at the table focuses your mind on the food and your body's hunger signals so that you will know when you are full.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How to Avoid Portion Size Pitfalls to Help Manage Your Weight
- Medline Plus: Portion Size
- Arkansas Department of Health: Portion Sizes
- US Highbush Blueberry Council: Blueberry FAQ
- Mayo Clinic: Diabetes Diet Exchange List
- USDA National Nutritional Database: Carrots
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.