Serving size. Portion size. Same thing, right? Not quite. A serving size is a reference amount of food as defined by Health Canada’s Food Guide (based on age and sex). A portion is how much you put on your plate and plan on eating in one sitting – and often it’s way more than you need. For instance, a bowl of pasta may equal three or four Food Guide servings of grain products–a half-day’s worth for a female aged 19-50. One 8-oz. steak equals three Food Guide servings of meat, which is more than the daily requirement for the same woman.
You can manage your portion sizes and cut down on food waste by dividing your plate into three sections, says Toronto-based registered dietician Shauna Lindzon.
“Vegetables and fruit should take up at least half of your plate,” Lindzon says. “Grains and protein (or meat-alternative)-based foods should each take up a quarter of your plate.”
Also watch the size of your plate – a medium-sized one is fine. Snacks should be a 1/4 to 1/3 of the size of a meal, adds Lindzon.
“A good snack has approximately 150 calories per serving for children.”
To assess your food choices and compare them to Health Canada guidelines, log onto the Dietitians of Canada website. This great tool allows you to calculate your nutrient intake, receive feedback on how to improve your choices and watch your progress.
By Robin Stevenson