Food Pyramid - What Counts as a Serving?

Written by Sky Taylor, Diet Bites

All Foods Have Different Measurements

Wouldn't it be grand if every food that resided in each food group contained the identical amount of energy values? For example, if we look at the Fruit Group, wouldn't it be swell if a banana contained the same number of caloric values as a peach, pear, pineapple or papaya on a cup per cup measurement?

While an apricot weighs in at 17 kcals a large banana contains almost eight times that amount.

Determining Serving Sizes

One of the most valuable elements of losing unwanted fat is knowing how many servings that your body requires from each of the five basic food groups within the American Food Pyramid in addition to what counts as a serving size.

While a slice of bread equals a serving from the grain group - it only takes 1/2 of a hamburger bun to satisfy a serving of grain. Let's see what the size of our other food favorites amount to when it comes to satisfying one serving.

Food Group:

Suggested Daily Servings:

What Counts as a Serving:

Bread, Cereal Rice Pasta

Whole-Grain Enriched

6-11 Servings from entire Food Group, including several servings of whole-grain foods daily

1 slice of bread
1/2 hamburger bun
1/2 English muffin
a small roll, biscuit or muffin
5-6 small crackers
3-4 large crackers
1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta
1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal
1/2 Hamburger or 1/2 Hot Dog Bun
4-inch pita bread
1/4 cup cooked rolled oats
2 Tablespoons of uncooked grit
2 Tablespoons of Cream of Wheat
9 animal crackers
1 seven-inch flour or corn tortilla
1 four-inch pancake
2 corn taco shells
1/16 of two-layer cake
4 small cookies
1/2 medium donut
1/5 of a 10-inch angel food cake
2 pretzel rods
2 cups popcorn
12 tortilla chips

Fruit Food Group

Assorted Fruits
Options for prepared fruits such as canned and frozen varieties that are sugarless or that contain added sugar determined by individual.   Added sugar should be offset in calories.

2-4 Servings from entire Food Group

medium apple
medium orange
medium banana
other whole fruit such as pears
1/2 grapefruit
melon wedge
3/4 cup of real fruit juice
1/2 cup berries
1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, frozen or canned fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
5 large strawberries
50 blueberries
30 raspberries
11 cherries
12 grapes
1 1/2 medium plums
2 medium apricots
1 medium avocado
7 melon balls
1/2 cup fruit salad 

Food Group:

Suggested Daily Servings:

What Counts as a Serving:

Vegetable Food Group

Dark-Green Leafy
Deep Yellow
Dried Beans & Peas (Legumes)
Other Vegetables

3-5 Servings from entire Food Group and should include dark-green leafy vegetables and legumes several times per week

1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1/2 cup of chopped raw vegetables
1 cup of leafy vegetables such as lettuce or spinach
3/4 cup of vegetable juice
1/4 cup of dried/dehydrated vegetables
1 medium tomato
5 cherry tomatoes
3 broccoli florets
7-8 celery or carrot sticks
10 whole green onions
7 medium mushrooms
1 medium whole turnip
3/4 cup sweet potato
1 medium baked white potato
10 French fries
8 okra pods
1 medium ear of corn
4 medium brussel sprouts
6 asparagus spears
1 whole bell pepper
1 globe artichoke
9 snow or sugar peas
6 slices of squash
1/3 medium cucumber
1 cup bean soup

Milk, Yogurt, Cheese Group

Skim, low fat, sugarless options determined by individual and offset in total calories.
2 Servings from entire Food Group 3 Servings for pregnant and  nursing moms, and individuals age 24 and under
1 cup milk
1 cup yogurt
1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese
2 ounces of processed cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup frozen yogurt
1 1/2 cups ice cream


Meats, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans & Peas, Eggs, Nuts

Meat should be lean and served without skin.
2-3 Servings from entire Food Group
5-7 ounces of cooked meat
1 egg
1/2 cup cooked beans
2 Tablespoons peanut butter = 1 ounce of meat


Fats, Sweets & Alcoholic Beverages

Use fats & sweets sparingly.  
Alcohol should be consumed in moderation.
Should not exceed 30% of total daily calorie intake

  Information Source: USDA

Return to Pyramid Diet Index


Related Articles

Calorie Burn Charts | Body Fat Index

Diet Bites | Disclaimers

Diet Bites is a Registered Service Mark