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Thread: portion/serving

  1. #1
    unpakwon is offline Senior Member
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    Default portion/serving

    I'm a little confused about the exact difference between a portion and a serving in the following.

    A number of the studies ... mention 'servings' of fruits and vegetables. They're referring to an FDA food pyramid standard. What you might want to remember is that a portion (closed-hand sized) of vegetables like steamed broccoli or spinach for example, is about equal to two FDA servings. With fruit, a portion is about equal to the FDA serving. In my daily nutrition example you'll see I have two pieces of fruit and a healthy portion of steamed spinach and that equals around four FDA servings.

    Does "a portion" refer to the amount of food one person eats at one meal or in a day? What is a serving? Is it the amount of food one person eats at a time? If you eat 3 servings of spinach, does it mean you eat spinach 3 times a day.

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: portion/serving

    Both of these expressions are arbitrary "standard" measurements of quantities of fruits and vegetables - and, confusingly, they also mean the amount of one particular type of food one might eat at a meal - also known as "helpings". Reading the article, we learn that "a portion (closed-hand sized) of vegetables like steamed broccoli or spinach for example, is about equal to two FDA servings." However, let's say I am a greedy individual, and I like spinach very much. So, if I were helping myself to the lunch buffet, I might load my plate with a "portion" or "serving" or "helping" of spinach which is four times the size of the closed-hand size portion mentioned in the article, or eight times bigger than the standard FDA serving.

    If I did the same at dinner, my consumption of spinach would have amounted to 4 portions/8 servings per meal, or 8 portions/16 servings per day.

    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

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    unpakwon is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: portion/serving

    Thank you for the answer.

    I understand your explanation. But I'm still not sure when they use the two words and how they use them differently.

    In my quote, does the sentence "With fruit, a portion is about equal to the FDA serving" mean "in case of fruit, a portion is about equal to one FDA serving"?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: portion/serving

    In my quote, does the sentence "With fruit, a portion is about equal to the FDA serving" mean "in case of fruit, a portion is about equal to one FDA serving"?




    Yes it does.
    Let me explain further about how these various words are used. As I said previously, a "helping", a "portion", and a "serving" are all terms used to describe the quantity of a particular food placed on a plate to be eaten at a particular time. There may well be other expressions which also mean the same. I don't know of any universally-agreed definitions as to what the volume or weight of food in any of these categories are. So different organisations - or even individual writers of cookery books - choose one of these terms to use as their "standard" measurement, and decide their own definition of the amount of food involved. This is important, because it means that everyone working within that organisation, or referring to that cookbook, is using the same unit of measurement, and understands exactly how big it is. The difficulty arises when data from two different organisations has to be studied or merged: which term of measurement should be used, and how should the other term of measurement be converted? The writer of the passage you quote obviously belongs to an organisation which has chosen "portion" as its standard of measurement, and has defined a "portion of vegetables" as being equivalent in volume to that of a closed hand. The FDA, on the other hand, has chosen the "serving" as its standard of measurement, and the writer is telling us that - in the case of vegetables - the "FDA serving" is half the size of the writer's organisation's own "portion".
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

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    unpakwon is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: portion/serving

    I see.

    Thank you for the kind explanation.

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