When reading a food’s nutritional label, the “serving size” indicates the amount of food
for which the nutrition information is shown. For example, for a loaf of bread, the serving
size is most often “one slice” and the number of calories, fat, carbs and proteins listed are for
that ONE slice of bread. If you eat more than one, you must multiply the nutritional values by the
number you actually consume. Serving size doesn’t necessarily mean the amount you should
consume, that depends on hunger, activity level, health needs and personal preference.

While nutritional labels provide excellent, detailed and useful information, if you don’t pay
attention to the serving size, you may be eating many more calories than you realize. Consider
your favorite cookies, the serving size may be a single cookie which may contain as many as
100 calories. But how often do you eat ONE cookie? Two cookies equals 200 calories and six
cookies contain 600 calories, about one third of the calories you should be eating. There may
even be big letters on the front of the package proclaiming “only 100 calories per serving!”
Technically true, but you now understand the need to adjust serving size by what you actually
consume.

When discussing food intake or diet, or specific types of diets, serving size often refers to
the recommended amount you consume. As an example, “you should include three servings of
fruit each day.” In this scenario, a “serving” is the amount of food that experts recommend you
eat – the recommended “portion” of food to be eaten.

Portion and serving size are often used interchangeably, but to be nutritionally accurate, a
“portion” is the amount of food that you choose to eat, be it big or small. A “serving” is a
measured amount of food or drink, such as that one slice of bread. Many foods that come as a
single portion actually contain multiple servings, a single sandwich for example, contains two
servings of bread.

How You Can Use Serving Size To Eat More Healthy

First, start reading labels. You may be shocked at how many servings (and calories) you
actually eat. It is easy to overeat when you pour cereal into your bowl, or spread peanut butter
on your bagel. Learn to recognize a single serving size of the foods you regularly eat and begin
calculating how many servings you actually eat. Use this information to then calculate and plan
your portion sizes and make the necessary adjustments to fall within desired calorie goals