Overestimating Serving Sizes: Top 10 Offenders

It is extremely common to over-estimate serving sizes and take in double or triple the amount of calories than you think you are consuming.  Check out the list below on the foods that are often misjudged.  It can be helpful to ration out portion sizes and keep the in individual bags.  NEVER eat straight from the bag or box!  That is mindless eating and you will almost always take in well over one serving.


Serving size of cereal is NOT whatever fits in your bowl, living a little more room for the milk. Most standard bowls you can easily fill with 3-4 servings.  One serving is ONE cup, think of a tennis ball.  It’ll most likely look like only a quarter of your bowl is filled.  I recommend buyer small bowls for your cereal as it make it much easier to control your portion.  Getting a second service is much more likely than filling up your bowl more than you should.   Top it with some fruit if you feel you need a little more one cup of cereal.


A very healthy nut to snack on, but it doesn’t mean the more, the better. One ounce is about 20 almonds, which has 163 cals and 14 grams of fat.  This is a case where I would recommend dividing your almonds into individual serving sized ziplock bags.


Another healthy food, but it is still important to limit yourself.  One serving of grapes is about 1/2 a cup, which equals about 15 grapes, obviously depending on their size.  One serving of grapes will give you 60 cals, and 15 grams of carbs and sugar.

Peanut Butter

Here is a difficult one for most.  Two tablespoons of peanut butter is one serving, imagine a ping-pong ball.  This is enough for everyone (regardless of what you believe) since the fiber and protein leave us feeling fuller long.  Be mindful when you are making a sandwich or if you are eating with a banana or an apple, measure out two tbsp and ration it out accordingly.

Ice Cream

We all need to give in to our sweet tooth every now and then and that is totally acceptable.  Cutting out foods completely just makes your craving even stronger.  It is simply about portion control.  If you are having a craving, a few bites of something will suffice.  There is no need to exceed the serving size of ice cream, which is 1/2 a cup.  Do not go overboard!


Now this one is definitely the most difficult for me.  One serving size of pasta is a mere 1/2 a cup, about the size of your fist or a baseball.  If you are like me, you may need a little (ha!) more to curb your appetite but it is important to recognize exactly how much you are eating.  Most restaurants serve at least 4 servings.  If you are dining out, save at least half for another day.  It’ll be just as good, I promise, and your waistline will definitely appreciate it.

Salad Dressing

Why ruin a completely healthy meal by drowning it in fatty, creamy dressing?  Even if you are using a lower calorie dressing, you should still measure out.  It only takes a small amount to coat your greens.  Use two tablespoons and enjoy the flavor of the veggies.


One serving of cheese is about the size of your thumb.  Ever snack on cheese and crackers?  You would never have more than 2 slices would you?

Trail Mix

One serving of trail mix is a mere three tablespoons, one handful!  I also recommend dishing out just one serving to snack on.  If you are eating from the bag it is way too easy to just keep going and going and going….


Yes, corn is healthy but you still need to stick to one serving.  Limit yourself to 1/2 a cup which has 15 carbs and 75 cals.

5 thoughts on “Overestimating Serving Sizes: Top 10 Offenders”

  1. Great stuff! Also, meat portions need to be considered, too — a computer mouse or a deck of cards is a good way to visualize a 3 oz. portion of COOKED meat. If you measure from the raw state, you miss out as all meats, poultry, and fish shrink a couple ounces during cooking. In restaurants, especially steak places, an 8-10 oz. steak is not uncommon and although protein is a vital nutrient in weight loss, tissue building and repair, and in creating satiety — often meats,especially fatty cuts, like T-bone steaks, pork roasts and chops, and burgers, have alot of fat — mainly saturated. It’s all great, but, like all of the other foods above == portion control and moderation is the holy grail of getting and staying fit!
    Thank you for all your excellent posts!

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