I received the following question today from one of my readers (who also happens to be a good friend)… “I don’t eat packaged foods, how can I figure my serving sizes [and] what are the measurements of each food group?”
This is a great question, and also a complicated one. While packaged foods offer convenience, they are very problematic. For one thing, portion sizes listed on the box can be confusing due to poor labeling or too big, and then there is the fact that they’re likely to be severely lacking in healthy natural nutrients in the first place. So, non-processed whole foods is the way to go for sure. But then you have to deal with not having a handy little Nutritional Information box telling you how much to eat.
First things first, you’re going to need a couple of things on hand like measuring cups and spoons (like these here and here) and a food scale (you can find the one I use here). You can also use a handy visual guide to measurements like this:
1 teaspoon = 1 die (singular for dice)
2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) = 1 ping pong ball
1 ounce = 2 dice or 1 domino
1/4 cup (2 ounces) = 1 large egg
3 ounces = 1 deck of cards or the palm of your hand
1/2 cup (4 ounces) = 1 light bulb (just the bulb part) or 1 billiard ball or cupped palm of your hand
1 cup (8 ounces) = baseball or small fist
I highly suggest that you use a food scale and measuring cups/spoons when you first start out so that you can make sure you are visualizing measurements correctly. After using measuring tools for a while, you will begin to be able to measure by sight very accurately. If after you switch to eye-balling your serving sizes you find that you are putting weight back on, you may have to switch back to measuring your food again.
Next, let’s take a look at the typical serving sizes of food groups.
Raw vegetables = 1 cup
Leafy raw vegetables = 2 cups
Cooked vegetables = 1/2 cup
Meat and seafood = 3 ounces
Fruit = 1 cup
Fats = 2 tablespoons
Liquid dairy = 1 cup
Hard dairy (cheese) = 1 ounce
Grains = 1/2 cup
*Most of the categories are pretty self explanatory except for the fats category. The fats category includes things like oils, butter (dairy and nut), spreads, dressings etc.
Let’s put this all together. A typical meal with a piece of chicken and a salad would look something like this:
I hope this handy little guide will help you reach your goals…. whatever they may be.Let me know if you have any other questions.
Photo By: timlewisnm
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