How to Eyeball Serving Sizes of Different Foods

If you don't like to weigh your food and count calories, then the eyeballing method is for you

Credit: Flickr/Nick Nguyen

Eyeballing your serving sizes is a lot quicker and easier than counting calories

Learning to estimate your serving size fairly accurately will help you eat the right amount of calories and the right types of foods

I for one, don’t like to weigh, measure and count every morsel of food I put into my mouth. If you’re a hardcore bodybuilder or figure competitor you may need to go to such extremes but for most people this is too much effort.

The method I’ll share with you is much quicker, easier and will still give you a good idea of how much you’re eating.

How to Eyeball a Serving Size

The pictures below show common, everyday objects to help you estimate an appropriate serving size of different foods.

Whole Grains

Serving size for whole grains

A serving of whole grains is one slice of bread, 1/2 bagel, 1/2 cup of cooked pasta, rice, quinoa, oatmeal or similar grain.




Fruits & Vegetables

Serving size of fruit

A serving of fruits or vegetables is equal to one medium sized piece of fruit (apple, orange, banana, etc), one cup of salad, 1/2 cup of 100% pure juice, 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables or fruit.





Serving size of dairyA serving of dairy is one cup (250 ml or 8 oz) of milk or other calcium-rich beverage (i.e. soy milk), a 175 gram container of yogurt, cheese the size of three dominos or a 9-volt battery, two tablespoons of low-fat sour cream or one tablespoon of regular fat sour cream.



Meat, Nuts, Legumes, Fish & Poultry

Serving size of meat, fish, poultry, nuts, legumesA serving size equals 80 – 110 grams (3 – 4 ounces) of fish, lean meat or poultry; 100 grams of lentils, beans, peas or other legumes; 100 grams of tofu; two tablespoons of peanut butter (or other nut butters); one to two eggs (depends on size); handful of nuts.




How Many Serving Sizes Should You Eat?

This will depend a lot on how heavy you are, how active you are, what your goals are (weight loss, weight gain) and so on. But as a rough guide, here are some goals for an average-sized person who wants to maintain a healthy weight and body fat levels.

  • Fruits and vegetables: 6 – 10+ servings per day. (It’s hard to eat too many of these!)
  • Meat, fish, legumes, poultry, nuts; 3 – 5 servings per day. Choose lean cuts for meat and poultry.
  • Dairy; 0 – 3 servings. Yogurt is the healthiest option but some cheese and milk is fine if you can tolerate lactose.
  • Whole grains: 1 – 4 servings. You’ll notice I don’t include non-whole grain options for these foods. If you’re going to eat bread or pasta get the whole grain variety, it’s much healthier.
  • Water: 6 – 10+ cups per day, depending on your size, activity level and climate.