What is a Serving?
Don’t let the concept of “servings” scare you — it’s easier than you think to get enough servings of a particular food if for no other reason than the way we are accustomed to eating — portion sizes in America have increased over the years. So what you consider a “serving” of something might actually be 2 or 3.
- For prepared foods, read the labels to see how much the manufacturer considers to be 1 serving.
- In recipes, check the number of servings listed to determine how much would equal 1 serving.
NOTE: Portion sizes are different than servings. For insights, see the Mayo Clinic link below.
While not a comprehensive list, here are some examples for the Four Food Groups.
- Whole wheat bread (1 slice = 1 serving)
- Brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and bran cereal (1/2 cup cooked = 1 serving)
- Bagel (1 = 4 servings)
So if you cook up 1/2 cup of raw oatmeal, you are getting two servings of grain — that’s what I typically have for breakfast. As you can see, something like a bagel (no oil) can be up to 4 servings. So you should be able to get your 8 servings a day with ease. Also, oat and rice milk count as a grain; soy and almond milk count as a legume.
Legumes (beans, peas, soy beans and nuts)
- Cooked or canned beans, low-fat soy milk (1/2 cup = 1 serving)
- Veggie meat substitute (1 oz. = 1 serving)
- Cooked vegetables (1/2 cup = 1 serving)
- Raw vegetables (1 cup raw = 1 serving)
You can eat as many servings of vegetables a day as you want (but only “safe” dressings).
- Diced fruit (1/2 cup = 1 serving)
- Whole fruit (1 small piece = 1 serving)
Servings are often compared other things: your fist, a baseball, a hockey puck, etc. I guess it works for the foods you eat often, but it’s a lot to try and keep straight.
Here are some websites that address serving size and may give you some of those comparisons.