Aug 26, 201202:26 PMIn Her View

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Size Up Your Servings by Ami Brown, M.Ed.

Size Up Your Servings by Ami Brown, M.Ed.


For many of us, it is not that we eat unhealthy but that we eat too much.  Our serving sizes have grown exponentially and that is evident in our obesity epidemic.  According to the Food & Drug Administration a serving is a standardized amount of a food, such as a cup or an ounce, used in comparing similar foods. Serving sizes are stated on the food label. Serving size on the food label is listed as a common household measure followed by the equivalent metric quantity in parenthesis, for example, "1/2 cup (112 g)."  However, these listed standard servings sizes are not always the amount that one takes as their portion or helping.  A person’s portion is the individual quantity of food or drink taken as part of a meal and it is often more than the standand serving size.  Here are some examples of standardized serving sizes.

  •   1 slice of whole-grain bread (so if you have a sandwich you are having 2 servings of grains)
  •   1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta (visual size of a tennis ball)
  •   1/2 cup of mashed potatoes (visual size of a tennis ball)
  •   3-4 small crackers
  •   1 small pancake or waffle (visual size of a CD)
  •   2 medium-sized cookies
  •   1/2 cup cooked vegetables or fresh berries
  •   1 cup (4 leaves) lettuce (visual size of a baseball)
  •   1 small baked potato (visual size of a computer mouse)
  •   3/4 cup vegetable juice (6 ounces—smaller than most kiddie cups)
  •   1 medium apple
  •   1 cup yogurt or milk
  •   1 1/2 ounces of cheddar cheese
  •   1 chicken breast, 1 medium pork chop, or 1/4 pound hamburger patty (visual size of a deck of cards)

These standardized servings that food label calories are based upon are very sobering.  Our portions are typically 3-4 times the standardized servings.  I don’t tell you this to be a big downer.  Knowledge is always power.  I want you to be able to be mindful of this information to better calculate how much you are eating and manage your health.  I have blogged before about “Conscious Eating” in May 2011.  You could also call it Mindful Eating.  Mindful Eating is:

–         Being aware. Think about what and how much you are consuming.

–         Eating slowly, SAVOR each bite.

–         Recognizing how frequently you eat.

–         Enjoying the experience of eating.

Eating should be a positive experience but as with most things in life quality is better than quantity.




Ami Brown works for TriHealth as the Health & Wellness Director of the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati.  As the YWCA Health & Wellness Director, she oversees the operations of the YWCA Fitness Center (located in downtown Cincinnati), Breast Health Program, and Youth Health Programs ( and  Ami has over 16 years’ experience in community and corporate health programs.   She has a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition, a Master’s degree in community health promotion (aka public health), and is a certified group fitness instructor (aka aerobics instructor).  Most importantly, Ami is a wife and mother of 3.


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