Portion Control: Why Most of Us Don’t Eat Right

portion control
Dr. Steven Pratt, MD, FACS, ABIHM

With Steve’s guidance, we created the original SuperFoodsRx grouping of 25 foods crucial to optimum human health. A diet rich in these SuperFoods forms the central concept of our nutritional recommendations.

The amount of food a majority of Americans eat in one sitting is just out of control, and when people learn that they should be eating 5 to 7 servings of vegetables a day many are shocked. They claim they could never eat that much food — and it’s quite true that one person can’t eat 7 servings of vegetables a day if their serving size duplicated the meal portions served in restaurants.

Fortunately, we make it easier on you.

The FDA says that the standard serving of pasta is one cup. In most restaurants, pasta portions typically measure about three cups. That’s three servings, not one serving for a single person! Despite this fact, a survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research found that more than 25% of Americans polled said that they decided how much food to eat on the basis of how much food they were served.

We’d be eating vegetables out of buckets if we based what a portion is from restaurant portion sizes. For this reason, people are discouraged from following good dietary guidelines because they’ve come to believe that a serving is the huge super size amount they’re usually served. They believe that if they ate the recommended portions, they’d gain a tremendous amount of weight.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, getting the optimum number of servings isn’t hard at all when you understand what a SFRX serving size really is. For most fruits and vegetables, it’s a half-cup.

SuperFoodsRx Serving Sizes

1/2 cup cooked or raw vegetables
1 cup raw greens
1/2 cup vegetable juice

1/2 cup chopped fruit
1/2 cup fruit juice
1 medium piece of fruit
2 tbsp raisins, 3 prunes

Vegetarian Protein
1 egg or 2 egg whites
3 oz tofu or tempeh
1/2 cup cooked beans or lentils

2 tablespoons peanut butter or 1 ounce raw nuts and seeds

Fish & Meat
3 ounces cooked lean meat, poultry or fish

Whole Grains
1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 cup cooked grain or pasta

High Calcium Foods
1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese
8 oz non-fat yogurt or milk

1 oz. (24) almonds, 15 walnut halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/8 avocado

American Dietetic Association’s
List of Appropriate Serving Sizes

  • A medium potato should be the size of your palm.
  • An average bagel should be the size of a hockey puck.
  • A cup of fruit is the size of a baseball.
  • A cup of lettuce is four large leaves.
  • Three ounces of meat is the size of a deck of cards.
  • Three ounces of grilled fish is the about size of a phone screen.
  • One ounce of cheese is the size of four dice.
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter equals one pingpong ball.
  • One ounce of snack foods–pretzels, etc., equals a large handful.
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