The information below explains portions and servings, and provides tips to help you eat just enough for you.
Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains
A portion is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or at home. A serving, or serving size , is the amount of food listed on a product's Nutrition Facts, or food label see Figure 1 below. Different products have different serving sizes, which could be measured in cups, ounces, grams, pieces, slices, or numbers—such as three crackers.
A serving size on a food label may be more or less than the amount you should eat, depending on your age, weight, whether you are male or female, and how active you are. Depending on how much you choose to eat, your portion size may or may not match the serving size. As a result of updates to the Nutrition Facts label in May , some serving sizes on food labels may be larger or smaller than they had been before see Figure 2 below. A serving size of yogurt is 6 ounces rather than 8 ounces.
Food and Drug Administration FDA changed some food and beverage serving sizes so that labels more closely match how much people actually eat and drink.
Go back to the updated food label in Figure 1 above. For example, if you eat two servings of this product, you are taking in calories:. How many calories you need each day to lose weight or maintain your weight depends on your age, weight, metabolism , whether you are male or female, how active you are, and other factors. For example, a pound woman who burns a lot of calories through intense physical activity, such as fast running, several times a week will need more calories than a woman about the same size who only goes for a short walk once a week.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans can give you an idea of how many calories you may need each day based on your age, sex, and physical activity level. Use the Body Weight Planner tool to make your own calorie and physical activity plans to help you reach and maintain your goal weight. The FDA food label is printed on most packaged foods. The food label is a quick way to find the amount of calories and nutrients in a certain amount of food.
For example, reading food labels tells you how many calories and how much fat , protein , sodium , and other ingredients are in one food serving. Many packaged foods contain more than a single serving. The updated food label lists the number of calories in one serving size in larger print than before so it is easier to see.
The food label has other useful information about what is included in one food serving. For example, one serving on the food label in Figure 1 above has 1 gram of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat , a type of fat that is unhealthy for your heart. Fruit and milk contain naturally-occurring sugars and are not included in the label as added sugars. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls for consuming less than 10 percent of calories daily from added sugars. Because Americans do not always get enough vitamin D and potassium, the updated food label includes serving information for both of these nutrients.
Since a lack of vitamin A and vitamin C in the general population is rare, these nutrients are no longer included on the food label. However, food makers may include them if they choose. Most food makers will have to start using the new food label by July 26, Figure 3 below compares the updated food label with the original label. In addition to checking food labels for calories per serving, keeping track of what you eat—as well as when, where, why, and how much you eat—may help you manage your food portions. Create a food tracker on your cellphone, calendar, or computer to record the information.
You also could download apps that are available for mobile devices to help you track how much you eat—and how much physical activity you get—each day. The Sample Food Tracker in Figure 4 below shows what a 1-day page of a food tracker might look like. In the example, the person chose fairly healthy portions for breakfast and lunch, and ate to satisfy hunger. The person also ate five cookies in the afternoon out of boredom rather than hunger. An early evening snack of a piece of fruit and 4 ounces of fat-free or low-fat yogurt might have prevented overeating less healthy food later.
The number of calories for the day totaled 2,, which is more than most people need. Taking in too many calories may lead to weight gain over time. For instance, call or visit a friend. Or, if you are at work, take a break and walk around the block, if work and schedule permit. Through your tracker, you may become aware of when and why you consume less healthy foods and drinks.
The tracker may help you make different choices in the future. You may only want to do this long enough to learn typical serving and portion sizes. Try these ideas to help manage portions at home:. Although it may be easier to manage your portions when you cook and eat at home, most people eat out from time to time—and some people eat out often. Try these tips to keep your food portions in check when you are away from home:. Have you noticed that it costs only a few cents more to get the large fries or soft drinks instead of the regular or small size? Although getting the super-sized meal for a little extra money may seem like a good deal, you end up with more calories than you need for your body to stay healthy.
Too many calories can affect your weight and health. Along with choosing a healthy variety of foods and reducing the total calories you take in through eating and drinking, pay attention to the size of your portions. Sticking with healthy foods and drinks and managing your portions may help you eat just enough for you. Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances.
Make small changes to create a healthier eating style. MyPlate What is MyPlate? Why Is It Important? Focus on variety, amount, and nutrition. Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles. Support healthy eating for everyone. Build a Healthy Eating Style All food and beverage choices matter — focus on variety, amount, and nutrition.
DASH diet: Guide to recommended servings - Mayo Clinic
Eat the right amount of calories for you based on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. Building a healthier eating style can help you avoid overweight and obesity and reduce your risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Use Nutrition Facts labels and ingredient lists to find amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars in the foods and beverages you choose. Look for food and drink choices that are lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.
Eating fewer calories from foods high in saturated fat and added sugars can help you manage your calories and prevent overweight and obesity. Most of us eat too many foods that are high in saturated fat and added sugar. Eating foods with less sodium can reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
Each MyWin is a change you make to build your healthy eating style. Find little victories that fit into your lifestyle and celebrate as a MyWin!