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What’s the difference between a Food Guide serving, a serving size and a portion size?




It can be confusing to understand the differences between a Food Guide serving, a serving size and a portion size. Find the answers here!








What is a Food Guide serving?

A Food Guide serving is a reference amount of food. All foods listed in Canada’s Food Guide have a Food Guide serving.

Here are examples of one Food Guide serving:

  • One slice of bread (35g)
  • ½ cup (125mL) of vegetables or fruit
  • 1 cup (250mL) of milk or fortified soy beverage
  • 2 ½ oz (75g) of meat, poultry or fish

The number of Food Guide servings you need per day from the four food groups are based on your age and sex.

Eating the recommended number of Food Guide servings from the four food groups will help you get the nutrients needed for good health. It may also help you lower your risk of certain chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.


What is a serving size?

A serving size is the amount of food found on the Nutrition Facts table of packaged foods.

A serving size is based on what an adult would usually eat at one time. It is not always the same as a Food Guide serving.

All the nutrition information (like calories, carbohydrate, fibre, protein, fat, sodium etc.) on the Nutrition Facts table is based on the serving size listed on a packaged food.

Note: The Nutrition Facts table is a great way to compare packaged foods and make healthier choices like getting more fibre and less sodium. Be sure the serving sizes are the same when comparing foods.


What is a portion size?

A portion size is the amount of food you choose to eat. Your portion may be larger or smaller than a Food Guide serving or the serving size on a packaged food.


Bringing it all together

Below are some tips on using Food Guide servings, serving sizes and portion sizes.

  • Follow Canada’s Food Guide to help you get the nutrients you need and lower your risk of chronic disease. Find out how many Food Guide servings you need each day.
  • Use the Nutrition Facts table to compare packaged foods: Be sure the serving sizes are the same when comparing foods.
  • Learn how to manage your portions.  Watch our video to help you avoid portion pitfalls and manage your weight. 

Last Update – October 6, 2015

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