More Back

Portions Vs. Servings

Is there really a difference between portion and serving size? YES! It’s important to know the difference when it comes to focusing on health and keeping that calorie count controlled. It’s especially important for people to be aware of their food consumption around the holidays. Our Dietitian and Home Economist Services teams at Kroger Customer Connect have joined forces to help provide some different perspectives on the topic of portions versus servings.

 A portion is the amount of a food that we choose to eat, while a serving is the amount of food that nutrition labels are based upon. If we choose to eat two of the Simple Truth Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs, it would be one portion. However, it would be two servings. Portion sizes are more variable (thus requiring us to have “more control”) than serving sizes. Taking the time to read the nutrition labels on packages will show how much of a particular food or drink is considered to be one serving.  

The serving sizes are based on weight or metric units and can also be listed in measurable terms such as count, tablespoons, cups or ounces. A little math must be done to determine the true impact of our portions; we need to multiply the calories in a serving by the number of servings actually consumed. The concept of a serving gets even more confusing knowing that the amount listed on the package is required to be within an acceptable range or reference amount determined by the FDA. This makes it confusing when trying to use the “serving”-based food guidelines from the USDA. The change from the USDA’s MyPyramid to the ChooseMyPlate model gives focus to the portions of food recommended. It makes judging our intake of foods easier — more visual. Overall calorie recommendations have not been changed.

It may be beneficial to think in terms of the size of common objects to get a better idea of just what a serving of food looks like. Here are some quick reference serving sizes:

  • A cup of raw vegetables is about the size of a fist.
  • One piece of fruit is visually equal to a tennis ball.
  • A half-cup of cooked beans is similar in size to a light bulb.
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter is visually comparable to a golf ball.
  • A single-serving baked potato is the size of a computer mouse.
  • One cup of cereal is about the size of a baseball.
  • Three ounces of cooked meat is close in overall size to a deck of cards.
  • An ounce of cheese is around the size of four stacked dice.


Here are some ways of looking at the ChooseMyPlate concept with regard to portions. It’s still advised to consult a family doctor before starting a weight loss or weight gain program.

  • Perhaps the most noticeable section: half of your plate is fruits and vegetables. Simple Truth offers many fresh and frozen fruit and vegetable options. Be aware that the fresh item supply may vary based on location and season. Fruits and vegetables greatly contribute to disease prevention, weight management and appetite control, as well as bone, skin and eye health.
  • The other half of your plate should include the grain and protein categories. An obtainable goal is to make half your grains whole. Whole grains come in the form of: 100% whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, pasta, brown rice and even popcorn. Take this opportunity to try out some grains such as: Simple Truth’s Organic Red Quinoa (also considered a vegetable), Simple Truth’s Natural (101 Free) Steel Cut Oats or Simple Truth Organic Long Grain Brown Rice. Your protein choices could include Simple Truth’s Grass-fed Ground Beef, our Organic Free-range Turkeys, Simple Truth Natural Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts or Simple Truth’s 101 Free Meatless Griller Strips.
  • The last part of your plate should be the dairy or calcium-fortified non-dairy alternatives. This group is indicated by a circle on the upper right of the plate and could include a serving of Simple Truth Organic 1% or Soy Milk, Simple Truth Organic Blueberry Low-fat Yogurt, Simple Truth Organic Firm Tofu or Simple Truth Organic Ricotta Cheese.

It’s time for us to “put a fork in it” and be done with oversized portions, high-fat meat and dairy products, high-sugar snacks and bulging waistlines. Don’t wait until the New Year to make a resolution to be more aware of servings and portions. Simple Truth offers many options for “simply eating better.” Take the time now to reconnect with family at the dinner table, demand the best nutrition for you and others and create an environment conducive to optimal health for those around you. More information is available at

What ways do you help keep portions aligned with serving sizes?

Sarah Koeninger

Sarah Koeninger enjoys sharing her knowledge of food and nutrition by keeping things simple, practical and realistic. As a dietitian, she believes that moderation and knowledge are the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and all aspects of a person must be fed: body, mind, and soul.

She obtained a BS in General Dietetics from Eastern Kentucky University along with a business minor because food is universal regardless of gender, culture, age or personality. She is a Certified Food Safety Manager by the FSP National Registry and enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, creating homemade gifts and planning parties and get-togethers. 

Molly Hembree

Molly Hembree is a dietitian for The Kroger Company, providing nutrition, diet, food safety, allergen, and other health education to customers, partners, associates and the community.  She obtained her BS in Dietetics from Eastern Kentucky University and is a current graduate student at the University of Cincinnati towards her MS in Nutrition. 

Molly is a Certified Food Safety Manager by the FSP National Registry and holds two weight management certificates from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  In her free time, she enjoys Zumba, learning about vegan nutrition, and finding new, exciting ways to put fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes at the center of the plate!

Karen Ilhardt

Karen’s role as Home Economist in the Kroger Customer Connect (C|c) is to answer customer questions and write about recipes, ingredient substitutions, and Food Safety.  She holds BS and MS degrees from The Ohio State University’s College of Home Economics with a specialty in Resource Management.  Karen also has teaching credentials from Miami University (of Ohio) and Wright State University. 

After having been a food teacher for 20 years she transferred to the corporate world in 2011.  Farming and crafting have always been a part of her life.  Karen values being part of our food production and preparation processes PLUS  being able to share those experiences with others.  The Simple Truth Brand embraces the wholesome nature of the foods we select and consume which makes a perfect choice for Karen’s lifestyle.

From the Community