Measuring the Proper Serving Size

Measuring the Proper Serving Size

One of the major contributors to obesity in this country today is the ever increasing serving sizes that are used to measure food. People are obsessed with finding the best value for their money, and so the food industry seems to keep offering larger and larger serving sizes. This makes it harder for Americans to realize how to measure a proper serving size.

Read the Nutrition Label

When you buy any packaged food, there will be a nutrition label telling you the exact measure for a serving size. It will usually be in a measurement like cups, teaspoons or ounces. If it is a product like cookies or bread, then the serving size might be 12 cookies or one slice, respectively. 


The serving size of meat is 3 oz. This is about the size of a deck of cards, a bar of soap or the palm of your hand. Every 1 oz. of meat is about the size of a matchbook. A paperback book-size of meat comes to about 8 oz.—the typical size of a serving you’d find in a restaurant, which is way more than you need!

For fish, a 3 oz. portion will be about the size of a checkbook.


Dairy serving sizes are often given in ounces as well. A serving size of milk, for example, is 8 oz. This is the equivalent of 1 cup—which comes to about the size of your fist. A normal size glass usually contains about 2.5 servings of milk. Drink your milk in smaller glasses to reduce your serving size.

The serving size of cheese is smaller—about 1 oz. This is the same size as 4 dice placed together.

Yogurt should be the same size as milk—1 cup or the size of your fist.


A medium potato is about the size of a computer mouse. This is a proper serving size. For pasta, you’ll want half of a cup. This is the size of a tennis ball or half the size of a softball. Bagels are often sold in "super sizes" in the supermarket. The serving size of a bagel should only be the size of a hockey puck. A pancake or waffle should be about the size of a CD. A muffin should be only about as big as a tennis ball. Two serving sizes of rice would be the size of a light bulb—or you can measure 1 serving size as the size of a cupcake wrapper.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are low calorie and therefore serving size is not as important. However, here are a few visual comparisons. One serving size of fruits and vegetables is about the size of a baseball. One serving size of leafy greens is the size of 2 tennis balls. A medium-size apple or orange is the size of a tennis ball.