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

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 and a portion? 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!

A portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat.  A serving size is the amount that is recommended by the USDA Food Guide (www.mypyramid.gov) as a standard amount used to help give advice about how much food to eat.  So, it may be appropriate for your portion to be two servings or if you require fewer calories you may only need one serving.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen some incredible changes to the foods that are offered at restaurants and the food stuff that is available in grocery stores.  Even if we are choosing healthy, wholesome foods, such as a sweet potato, eating too much of them can cause our waistline to expand.  And, it is not only the portion sizes that have nearly doubled but also the plates and bowls that our food is served in.  This may make it seem like the food on your plate is an appropriate amount, when in fact it may be too much.  To help you understand how to eat the right amount of food, you really need to understand what appropriate portions look like.

Use the following guide to help you determine what a real serving of food is so that you can decide if your portion is proper!

Sweet Potato 100 g or 3.5 ounces= computer mouse
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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