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How to Judge Serving Sizes

Some foods are weighed in ounces. Some are measured in spoons or cups. Others, like fruits, are based on an average, or medium, size. Below are some serving sizes and tips to help you judge just what 1 serving looks like.

Ounces

  • A serving of meat, poultry, or fish is 2 to 3 ounces.

  • A serving of natural cheese is 1½ ounces. A serving of processed cheese is 2 ounces.

Palm of open hand showing 2-3 ounce portion size.
Two to 3 ounces is about size of the palm of your hand.

A medium-sized piece

  • A serving of fresh, whole fruit is 1 medium-sized piece.

  • A serving of melon is one 2-inch slice or 1 cup diced or melon balls.

Tablespoons and teaspoons

  • A serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons.

  • A serving of salad dressing is 1 tablespoon.

  • A serving of fat, oil, or sugar is 1 teaspoon.

Closeup of fist with thumb extended showing tablespoon portion size.
One tablespoon is about the size of the first 2 joints of your thumb.

Cups

  • A serving of these foods is ½ cup: cooked cereal, rice, dried beans, or pasta; cooked or chopped raw vegetables; chopped, cooked, or canned fruit.

  • A serving of vegetable or fruit juice is ¾ cup.

  • A serving of these foods is 1 cup: raw, leafy vegetables; berries; milk; or yogurt.

  • A serving of ready-to-eat cereal is ½ cup, ¾ cup, or 1 cup. The Nutrition Facts label tells you just how much 1 serving is.

Cupped hand showing half-cup portion size.
A half-cup is about what you can fit in your cupped hand.
Fist showing one-cup portion size.
One cup is about the size of your fist.

These are just a few examples. For a longer list, you can search online through sources such as eatright.org, or heart.org. Or ask your healthcare provider for help.

Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather Trevino
Online Medical Reviewer: Kenny Turley PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2020
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