Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Figuring out portion control

Let’s face it. We live in a super-size world. Portions have ballooned to unhealthy proportions. Many of us are eating too much of foods that aren’t so good for us, and skimping on the foods we need for good nutrition.

Woman eating whole wheat bread

It’s time to take control of our health (and our waistlines) by making sure we’re eating correct portions of the foods we need.

Daily food guide servings

A great resource for portion sizes is Canada’s Food Guide. This simple guide provides clear definitions of serving sizes, or Daily Food Guide Servings:

OilOils and fats

  • 3 tablespoons of unsaturated fats each day


Vegetables and fruits

  • 1/2 cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruits or vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of cooked leafy vegetables or 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of 100% pure juice

Whole wheat breadGrain products

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 of a bagel, pita or tortilla
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rice, bulgar, quinoa, pasta or couscous
  • 3/4 cup of cold cereal

MilkMilk and alternatives

  • 1 cup of milk, powdered milk (reconstituted) or fortified soy beverage
  • 1/2 cup of canned milk (evaporated)
  • 3/4 cup of yogurt or kefir
  • 1-1/2 ounces of cheese

Healthy foods: More is not better >>

SalmonMeat and alternatives

  • 2-1/2 ounces or 1/2 cup of cooked fish, shellfish, poultry or lean meat
  • 3/4 cup of cooked legumes or tofu
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut or nut butters
  • 1/4 cup of shelled nuts or seeds


You won’t always have a measuring cup or scale handy, so use these visuals to estimate portion sizes:

  • 1/4 cup = 2 golf balls
  • 1/2 cup = 1 tennis ball
  • 1 cup = 2 tennis balls
  • 3/4 cup = 1 computer mouse
  • 2 1/2 oz. (meat or fish) = 1 deck of cards

Measuring pasta serving sizes >>


Now that you know appropriate portion sizes, it’s time to talk about the other part of the “portion control” equation — the control. It’s one thing to know that one slice of bread equals one serving from the Grain Products category, but if you go through half a loaf in a day, your super-tight pants are going to tell you that something’s not quite right. Control comes from knowing how many daily servings you need from each of the food groups. Amounts vary based on age, sex and activity level, so refer to Canada’s Food Guide for specific recommendations.

Spring diet: Give your kitchen a healthy makeover >>

Track your food


Put your knowledge of portion control into practice by tracking what you eat for meals and snacks. Grab a notebook, or download a personalized My Food Guide Servings Tracker from the Health Canada website. These simple tracking sheets are personalized based on sex and age group, and give you the appropriate number of checkboxes to make sure you’re getting the right amount of vegetables and fruits, grains, milk and alternatives, meat and alternatives and oils and fats each day.

Watch: Are you getting enough milk?

Two-thirds of Canadians aren’t getting enough milk products. Are you? Watch this clip from The Yummy Mummies and find out!

The facts on sodium
The facts on fibre
The facts on fat

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.