University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

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Publication #FCS8661

Pick Your Portion Sizes1

Jennifer Hillan and Claudia Peñuela2

Is it tricky to visualize the recommended amounts of foods from the five MyPyramid food groups or determine how much food from each food group you should eat? To help you determine the appropriate amount of food specifically for you, allows you to personalize your eating plan based on your age, sex, and daily level of physical activity. The recommended amounts are given in cups or ounces according to each food group. Unfortunately, there is not always time or resources for using measuring cups or food scales to help you accurately measure your food. To help you picture these amounts, you can use common household objects for comparison; see Table 1 for examples. This process can help you learn to recognize what the right amounts of foods for a healthier you really are—and before you know it, picking sensible portion sizes will have become second nature. For examples of what counts as a cup or an ounce for each food group see Table 2.


Table 1. 

Picture your portion sizes as specific objects

1 cup of dry cereal or

1 cup of chopped fruit or

1 cup of cooked spinach or

1 cup of raw chopped broccoli


A baseball

½ cup of cooked rice or

½ cup of pasta or

½ cup of cereal or

½ cup of chopped fruit or

½ cup of vegetable


A small computer mouse

1½ ounces hard cheese


4 stacked dice

3 ounces of meat, or

3 ounces of fish, or

3 ounces of poultry


A deck of cards

1 teaspoon of margarine


A die

2 tablespoons of peanut butter


A golf ball

Table 2. 

What counts as... ounce of grains?

1 slice bread

1 cup of dry cereal

½ cup of cooked rice, pasta or cereal

...a cup of vegetables?

1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables

1 cup of 100% vegetable juice

2 cups of raw leafy greens

...a cup of fruit?

1 cup of fruit

1 cup of 100% fruit juice

½ cup of dried fruit

8 large strawberries

...a cup of milk?

1 cup of milk or yogurt

1½ ounces hard cheese (cheddar, Swiss) ounce of meat and beans?

1 ounce of lean meat, poultry, or fish

1 tablespoon of peanut butter

¼ cup cooked dry beans or peas

½ ounce nuts or seeds



This document is FCS8661, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published as Size Up Your Servings in October 2001. Revised February 2011. Visit the EDIS website at


Jennifer Hillan, MSH, RD, LD/N, former ENAFS nutrition educator/trainer; Claudia Peñuela, assistant in nutrition–EFNEP; Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; University of Florida; Gainesville 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.