A serving size and a portion size are not the same thing, but understanding both is important for weight management.  Learn what the differences are, and what a standard serving size looks like.

Have you ever purchased raw sweet potatoes?  Hopefully so! When you did, you probably noticed how different they range in size from one to another.  How do you determine what size potatoes to buy?

Before I purchase potatoes, I first decide how I am going to prepare them.  This week, I was preparing mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon, so I bought two of the largest sweet potatoes that the store had.  Let me tell you, these things were huge! They looked like sweet potatoes on steroids.

This got me thinking!  Would consumers be able to determine how many servings in one of these sweet potatoes?  Would someone really see one of these potatoes as a portion or even two?  Do consumers understand the difference between a serving size and a portion size? The sweet potato in the picture above is actually four servings.  I put the fork next to it as a measure!  Huge, right?  If you are confused by the difference between a  portion size and a serving size, read on!

Sweet potatoes come in a wide range of sizes- large, medium and small. The size of the potato should not determine how much you eat. This is about the difference between serving size and portion size.

What Is The Difference Between Portion Size and Serving Size?

A portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat.  It’s your portion of food.

A serving size is the amount listed as a standard amount, used to help give advice about how much food to eat.  Food labels list a serving size, so that consumers are able to see the nutrition information of a particular amount of food. Your portion might be two to three servings of  a particular food. Or, if you require fewer calories, you may only need one serving.

How Portion Size Of Food Can Lead To Weight Gain

Over the past 20 years, there have been incredible changes to the amount of food offered at restaurants and the size of packaged food available in grocery stores.  Portion sizes have nearly doubled. Eating too much of any food – even healthy foods like sweet potato –  can lead to weight gain.  The portion sizes of food we are served is often more than we need. That’s why it’s really important to know how much food you need – to meet your personal needs and goals. And, know what that amount of food looks like. I wrote this post on what 400 calories looks like to help you see the difference between 400 empty calories versus a balanced 400 calorie meal.

In addition to portion sizes, the plates and bowls that holds our food has increased, too.  That too, can lead to overeating. A larger plate makes the amount of food seem smaller, when in fact it might be more than you need.

What Does A Serving Size Look Like?

To help you understand how to eat the right amount of food, you really need to understand what appropriate portions look like. The following guide can help you determine what a standard serving of food is. From there, you can choose how many servings, your individual portion will be.

 Sweet Potato 100 g or 3.5 ounces= computer mouse
 White Fish 3 ounces= a checkbook
 Cooked pasta ½ cup cooked= a tennis ball
 Fruit 1 medium= a baseball
 Cheese 1 ounce= 4 dice stacked
 Tofu 3 ounces= a deck of cards
 English muffin or bagel 1 ounce= ½ English muffin or ¼ large bagel
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