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How to Judge Serving Sizes

Some foods are weighed in ounces. Some are measured in spoons or cups. Others such as fruits are based on an average or medium size. Below are some serving sizes and tips to help you judge just what 1 serving looks like.


  • A serving of meat, poultry, or fish is 2 to 3 ounces. This looks like the size of a deck of cards or the palm of the hand.

  • A serving of natural cheese is 1½ ounces. This looks like the size of 3 to 4 dice. A serving of processed cheese is 2 ounces.

Palm of open hand showing 2-3 ounce portion size.
Two to 3 ounces is about size of the palm of your hand.

A medium-sized piece

  • A serving of fresh, whole fruit is 1 medium-sized piece.

  • A serving of melon is one 2-inch slice or 1 cup diced or melon balls.

Tablespoons and teaspoons

  • A serving of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons.

  • A serving of salad dressing is 1 tablespoon. This is about the same size as the thumb.

  • A serving of fat, oil, or sugar is 1 teaspoon.

Closeup of fist with thumb extended showing tablespoon portion size.
One tablespoon is about the size of the first 2 joints of your thumb.


  • A serving of these foods is ½ cup: cooked cereal, rice, dried beans, or pasta; cooked or chopped raw vegetables; chopped, cooked, or canned fruit.

  • A serving of vegetable or fruit juice is ¾ cup.

  • A serving of these foods is 1 cup: raw, leafy vegetables; berries; milk; or yogurt.

  • A serving of ready-to-eat cereal is ½ cup, ¾ cup, or 1 cup. The Nutrition Facts label tells you just how much 1 serving is.

  • A baseball or average-sized fist is about 1 cup.

  • A tennis ball is about ½ cup.

Cupped hand showing half-cup portion size.
A half-cup is about what you can fit in your cupped hand.
Fist showing one-cup portion size.
One cup is about the size of your fist.

These are just a few examples. For a longer list, you can search online through sources such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at or the American Heart Association at Or ask your healthcare provider for help.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2022
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