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Explore the USDA Food Pyramid

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Updated April 16, 2014

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A Meal with Healthy Portions
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Compared to the previous photo, the hamburger and vegetables are served in healthy portions.

David Rose

This meal is smaller than the meal in the photo on the previous page. The burger has just one serving of meat rather than two or three. There is less bread with this roll, and there are about three full servings of healthy vegetables. The calorie count for this meal is probably closer to 500 calories, which is much easier to fit into most people's daily diet.

According to the pyramid:

  • A serving of meat is about two or three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. A single serving of other proteins looks like this: two tablespoons of nut butter, two eggs, and one-third cup of dry beans.
  • A serving of bread is one slice of white or whole grain bread, one ounce of prepared cereal, or just one-half cup of pasta or rice.
  • A serving of fruit or vegetable is one piece, one half a cup of chopped fruit or vegetable, or three-fourths cup of 100-percent juice.
  • A serving of dairy is equal to one cup of milk or one and one-half ounces of cheese.
If you have trouble picturing these serving sizes, purchase a kitchen scale and measure out your servings when you serve your meals.

Portions Vs. Servings

You might hear these two words used interchangeably, but there is a difference between portions and servings. Basically, a portion is whatever amount of a given food that you put on your plate. It can be big or little and varies from one person to the next. A serving is a recommended amount as determined by experts at places like the United States Department of Agriculture.
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