Picture-Perfect Portions

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Nutritionist

What’s a reasonable portion of pasta? Mashed potatoes? Broccoli? If you’re not sure, join the club! Thanks to oversized restaurant portions, giant cookies, muffins and other baked goods, king-sized candy bars and all the other huge portions out there, it’s hard to know what a serving looks like. But learning to keep your portions in check can help you cut calories and reach your goal weight.

You don’t have to be a portion pro to figure out serving sizes, though. In fact, you don’t even need measuring cups, spoons or a scale. Simply use everyday items to size up your servings. Take a look at the chart below, from the NIH’s The Weight-Control Information Network.1 to help put portions into perspective.

Serving Sizes
1 cup of cereal = a fist
1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta, or potato = 1/2 baseball
1 baked potato = a fist
1 medium fruit = a baseball
1/2 cup of fresh fruit or vegetables = 1/2 baseball
3 ounces meat, fish, poultry = palm of a woman’s hand
1 1/2 ounces of low-fat or fat-free cheese = 4 stacked dice
1/2 cup of ice cream = 1/2 baseball
2 tablespoons of peanut butter = a ping-pong ball


1 NIH Publication No. 09–5287, June 2009.

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