A "portion" can be thought of as the amount of a specific food you choose to eat for dinner, a snack, or another eating occasion. Portions, of course, can be bigger or smaller than the recommended food servings.
A "serving" is a unit of measure used to describe the amount of food recommended from each food group. It is the amount of food listed on the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged food or the amount of food recommended in the Food Guide Pyramid and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released by the U.S. government.
For example, six to 11 servings of whole grains are recommended daily. A recommended serving of whole grains would be one slice of bread of a half cup of rice or pasta. (Download the Serving Size Card at the website hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/servingcard7.pdf for more examples of recommended serving sizes.) People often confuse the recommendation to mean six to 11 portions with no regard to size. It is not six to 11 portions where a portion could mean a large bowl of pasta rather than a half cup. Keep an eye on portion size to see how your portions compare with the recommended amounts.
More Answers from Vonda Wright, MD