Proper food group serving sizes

It’s easy to know if you’re eating the right foods; the tricky part is knowing how much to eat and what makes up a proper portion size. Are you piling cheese onto your pasta or crackers? One cube the size of your thumb is one serving. As for that large Minute Maid orange juice you just bought, it’s too much; an orange is a better bet over orange juice. How do you know just how much is enough?

We all know fruits and vegetables are very important for maintaining a healthy diet, and Health Canada suggests we eat a whopping 7 to 10 servings of them per day. The good news is when it comes to vegetables, a half-cup of cooked veggies is enough to make one food group serving size. On the down side, delicious potatoes and corn are closer to being grain products than veggies. It’s best to aim for dark green or orange vegetables. The more colourful your diet, the better!

Fruits: 1 cup
Vegetables: 1/2 cup cooked
Lettuce: 1 cup (4 leaves)
Juice: 120 mL (NOT a 450 mL Minute Maid bottle)

According to Health Canada, you should have 6 to 8 servings of grain products a day, of which half should be whole wheat. Grain products include cereal, oatmeal, bread, rice, pizza crust and other grain-based products. You may be surprised to learn that the huge bowl of pasta you were served last night at that Italian restaurant exceeds the amount of pasta you should really be eating today. One grain product serving size is usually met by the consumption of one half-cup of grain products.

Pasta/rice/potato: 1/2 cup (size of your palm)
Bread: 1 slice
Bagel: 1 (size of a hockey puck)
Potato: 1 potato the size of a computer mouse
Pancake: 1

The most shocking news regarding food group serving sizes is probably this: a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards constitutes one serving of meat and alternatives. That means that the multiple pieces of veal you have piled onto your plate are too much. If you’ve eaten chicken for lunch and a steak for dinner, chances are you’re eating too much meat and possibly lacking nutrition elsewhere (perhaps from the fruits and vegetables group, or dairy). It’s also important to vary your diet by balancing your intake of meat against the consumption of nuts, beans and other legumes.

Protein/meat: 3 oz (the size of your palm or a deck of cards)
Nuts: 8 (handful)

As for dairy products, one food group serving size includes 1 ounce (the size of two thumbs put together) of cheese, one cup of milk or 175 grams of yogurt (NOT  a cute 100 gram package of yogurt).

With these serving sizes in mind, you have everything you need to eat well and feel better. 

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Tags: food groups, portion sizes, proper food group serving sizes, serving sizes

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