Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A tale of Two Servings and a Large Portion

Proper food portioning is key in achieving a good nutritional status. Too much or too little will result in an imbalance. It may seem a bit confusing to differentiate Servings from Portions,so I will assist you with this in this post.

A serving is a standard measure used for a particular food. It is the amount of food that yields a set amount of energy. For staples, a serving of any food belonging to that groups yields 15 grams of Carbohydrate. Therefore if you take a serving of bread (1 slice) or a serving of rice (1/2 cup), both being one serving will give you only 15 grams of Carbohydrate.  If you go back to the Eating to Survive series, you will see a list of the foods we eat here in the Caribbean and the accepted standard for one serving. If you are not from the Caribbean I assure you that there are some foods on these lists that you eat in your region as well so please feel free to check it out. You can look at the lists for each of the food groups within their respective posts below.

Even though your serving size is a fixed amount, your portion size may vary. So for your portion you might choose to have 3 slices of bread. That is your portion, but you are actually having 3 servings of staple. 
The size of your portions is what really determines whether you are overeating or not. By taking care to control portions there is little need to eliminate one food group from the diet. 
We generally consume much more of one food group than the others, leading to an imbalance in your nutrition status.Therefore we need to pay special attention to our eating patterns and more carefully match them to the ideal. 
The ideal is not set but instead is a range within which you can choose. Someone living with diabetes would be encouraged to consume the number of serving at the lower end of the ranges while an athlete or a manual worker would be encouraged to consume the number of servings at the higher end of the range.This range is listed below.

It is recommended that each day we consume :

6 -11 servings of Staples
3-4 servings of Vegetables 
2-4 servings of Legumes
2-4 servings of Food From Animals
1-3 serving of Fats and Oils 
2-4 servings of Fruits

Therefore if we know the number of servings to consume during one day as well as the standards for one serving for the different foods, we can control our portions effectively.
For a video tutorial/presentation showing you how to do just that please watch the video below. 

  1. Six food groups for use in the Caribbean   http://www.paho.org/english/cfni/six_food_groups.pdf
  2. Standards for Servings : Appendix III  http://www.paho.org/english/cfni/cfni-protocolnmodh.pdf 
  3. Number of Servings per day :  http://www.highfiveforlife.com/images/hi_five/food-group.jpg


islandgypsy said...

I really liked this post. Sometimes people do get confused with the terms and so don't understand how to effectively achieve their goals. Great post Tanya

Tanya Lambert said...

Thank you IslandGypsy. I really hope everyone is able to understand from my post if not, I hope they will let me know.