Mindful Eating: How Much is a Portion? And, What is a Serving Size?

Portion Size vs. Serving Size:
Do you get confused?
A lot of people do. Here’s an easy way to remember the difference.
Recipe with magnifying glass over nutrition facts

Making Sense of the Two Phrases

Two phrases that you will often hear regarding eating habits are portion size and serving size. And while they have two completely different meanings that may confuse many people, they are often used interchangeably — and knowing the difference between the two plays an important part in eating healthy.

The subtle but significant difference in portion size versus serving size is the amount of food you eat during one sitting. Whether you’re dining out or eating at home, portion size is how much food of a serving that you eat, which can be more or less than one serving.

Quick Tip: Remember, portion size is always 100% within your control.

one portion of spaghetti with sauce vs. a big serving size of spaghetti and sauce

Think about it this way:

Remember those enormous plates of food that we all used to get when we went out to eat? The restaurant brought a colossal plate of say “pasta” as your serving, but you may have only eaten half of it and taken the other half home, making your portion size smaller from the actual serving size.

But what about in recipes? Is it the same?

tablet showing GFD web page on counter with ingredients around it

When interpreting recipes, you want to look at the serving (portion) size and how much it serves or makes. That pan of Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars you’re drooling over claims to serve 18 (or make 18 servings), but if you’re super hungry (or if you have just come back from a workout), you may want to eat more than one-eighteenth of what the recipe makes to fill you up.

Here’s an easy way to remember the difference in recipes:

  • The “Serving Size” is the suggested amount of food to eat at one time. The portion you choose to eat could be more or less than one serving.
  • “Serves” is the entire amount, or the “total amount of servings that the recipe makes” listed on the Nutrition Facts. For instance, using our recipe for Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Bars; one 2-1/2” x 2-1/2” bar is one serving size, but if you eat two bars, that would be the portion size you choose to eat. If you were to eat the entire pan, you would be eating 18 servings.
The critical thing to remember when choosing the most healthful foods is to choose foods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients (in purple) but lower in calories.

Using portion sizes and serving sizes to guide your eating.

Using portion sizes and serving sizes to guide eating isn’t at odds with healthy eating or mindful eating habits. Because when you’re maintaining an in-the-moment awareness of the food and drink you are putting into your body, it’s not about eating better, getting healthier, or losing weight.

Mindful eating does something more powerful.

When you work on a mindful path, it changes your relationship with food and with your body. It involves observing how your food makes you feel and the signals your body sends to your brain about fullness, satisfaction, and taste.

Practicing mindful eating and using it as a powerful tool and guide can help control your eating habits to enjoy your food more. It can make mealtimes more satisfying, make you feel better with better health outcomes, and change how you engage with the world.

Did you like this post? Does this explanation make sense to you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment. Click the blue-green comment bubble on the bottom right of your screen to jump to the comment area.



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Kymberley @gfreedeliciously

Kymberley @gfreedeliciously

Hi, I'm Kymberley, the creator of G-Free Deliciously and the Amazing, Glorious Journey Programs. I pray that my work will inspire you to honor your body through God and Good Food from the inside out, all while enjoying your Amazing, Glorious Journey!

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Being creative, cooking, fresh veggies, the violin, decorating for holidays, sewing, hand-quilting, cowgirl boots, country music, fresh herbs in pots, blowing dandelions to the wind, walking barefoot in the grass, hanging out with eclectic interesting people, reading, writing, warm lazy summer days, and yoga!

Gluten, cilantro, mixed vegetables (the frozen kind I grew up with), negativism, rudeness, narcissism, overstaying a welcome,
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Say please and thank you, LAUGH, Pray often, ENCOURAGE others, Be KIND, HONEST, HAPPY, Keep your PROMISES, Be GRATEFUL, Wash your hands, FORGIVE yourself and others, LISTEN, Have FAITH, Be CONFIDENT, Honor your parents, CHERISH your children and grandchildren, TREASURE your family, ABIDE in GOD’s love, Be POLITE, Guard your HEART, SEEK your purpose, FEED your mind, body and soul, Be HOPEFUL, Resist temptation, Lay your burdens down, TRUST your gut, CONNECT with nature, Know that GOD made you perfect just the way you are, SERVE others, LIVE to love, Be COURAGEOUS, Shine bright, OPEN your mind, RESPECT differences, HONOR your inner hunger, SING loud, Be PROUD of who you are, Practice PATIENCE, Never give up, WEATHER the storms of life, Say I love you, LOVE one another

  • I’ve traveled to 32 states in the USA where I’ve enjoyed the food, history, people and the local culture while visiting.
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  • I broke my neck when I was 18 and went to senior prom in a neck brace.
  • As a little girl, I grew up living next door to my grandma and grandpa on a small lake in rural southern Michigan.
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