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Serving Sizes: Have you got them right?

How much is enough to eat? Now a days, with portion sizes growing increasingly bigger, it’s hard to tell. This article breaks down how much you should be eating and how to measure your portions on-the-go.

Portion Distortion: What is it and Why is it Important

Portion Distortion: What is it and Why is it Important

With fast food restaurants and grocery pre-prepared meals, the idea of how much one should eat or is expected to eat has been distorted. Portion distortion is defined by Segen's Medical Dictionary as “an upward shift in the size and calorie count of a serving of a particular food served to the general public, especially in fast-food restaurants” (1). While portion distortion can be observed with foods often considered healthy, such as rice, pastas, avocado dips, nuts, and cheeses, this distortion can easily result in over-eating, and naturally, weight gain.

One means of preventing this is to restrict one’s portions based on Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) daily portion recommendations.

Serving Sizes: Canada’s Food Guide’s Portion System

Serving sizes are proportions outlined by the CFG. The CFG has outlined

  1. how many servings people of each age group and gender and

  2. how much of each food constitutes 1 serving.

Serving Sizes: Canada's Food Guide Portion System

Serving Sizes Commonly Mistaken

Here is a list of common foods for which serving sizes are often confused and how much of each constitutes 1 CFG serving.


½ pita/bagel

That means your full bagel, or your pita for your hummus dip are at least 2 servings.


35 g or 1 Slice

Now a days, slices of toasts can exceed 35g. So one sandwich alone can have more than 2 servings of grain.


½ cup

So those rice and pasta bowl you order might have a bit more than you need in one meal! This measurement is of cooked product not raw!


75 g

A single hamburger can exceed this amount! Keep in mind, you need between 1-3 servings!


¼ cup

These are nutritious but also energy dense so be sure to measure these especially if you are managing your weight.


2 Tbsp

This is nutritious but also energy dense so be sure to measure these especially if you are managing your weight.



Many yogurt cups are not the correct amount! Some too little (100 g) others are more than once serving.


50 g

For block cheese, that’s just less than 2

3x3x3 cm cubes! Careful with that cheese platter!


½ fruit

This is important to keep in mind for guacamole lovers!


¼ cup

With trail mixes, on- the-go bars, and cereals, these servings can add up fast!

That’s great—But how do I measure servings on the go?

EatRight Ontario has created serving guidelines using your hand as a reference for serving sizes of different foods to help Canadians determine portion sizes easily while on the go! Above is a sample of some hand reference for different serving sizes.

Be prepared for the next time you eat out and get familiar with the handy serving system by checking out this site here! And for more information on CFG’s specific serving sizes, click here!

Note from Rebecca:

Bottom Line: Portions are an efficient way to quantify how much of a certain food or food group you are eating. Everyone's needs will be unique to their age, gender, activity level and gene profile. Portions and Canada's Food Guide serve as a guideline and as one pathway to ensure you are meeting your nutrient requirements for micronutrients and macronutrients. To get customized feedback on how you are measuring up or to get a custom meal plan give London Dietitians a call:

519 432-1919 x 235

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