Portion Control and Serving Sizes | Cornerstones4Care®

Serving Sizes


How big is 1 serving?

Nutritional facts listed on food labels are usually measured in servings or portions.

One serving of bread, fresh fruit, or plain fat-free yogurt has about 15 grams of carbohydrates (or carbs). The size of a single serving varies with the type of food. Serving sizes are often smaller than what you are used to eating. At first, you may find it helpful to weigh or measure your food to find out your serving sizes.

A full meal usually contains 45 to 60 grams of carbs.

Serving sizes can be described in different ways, depending on the type of food being measured. Usually, a single serving is a smaller portion than you would get at a restaurant. Those meals tend to be more than 1 serving.

Here are some examples of foods with 15 grams of carbohydrates in 1 serving:

  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice or pasta
  • 1 slice of bread or a small roll
  • 1 small piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup of black beans or starchy vegetables
  • 2/3 cup of plain fat-free yogurt
food choices to help control your blood sugar levels

Other words for sugar

It may not always be clear how much sugar and other carbs are in foods, so here are a few tips to help you find out what’s in your food:

  • Many words that end in “-ose,” such as sucrose, fructose, and dextrose are types of sugar
  • Some “low-fat” foods have extra sugar. Look at the food label closely

Learn more about counting carbs with your personalized carbohydrate counting tool.

Carb counting and diabetes

Carb counting can help manage blood sugar. Some people who take medicine use carb counting to match the amount of fast-acting or mealtime insulin they take before eating, to the amount of carbs they eat at a meal.

Counting carbs can help people who take fast-acting or mealtime insulin decide how much insulin they should take before eating. You can learn more about insulin and how it works here.

Before you start a meal plan, it's important to speak with your diabetes care team about how to manage carbs.

Counting carbs:

  • Helps manage your blood sugar levels
  • Helps you choose what foods fit into a meal plan the best
  • Can help you fit the foods you love into your meal plan

To count carbs:

  • Know which foods contain carbs
  • Find out how many carbs are in those foods
  • Carefully read food labels and use measuring tools, such as measuring cups, spoons, and a food scale

Have you signed up for the Diabetes Health Coach?

Booklet also available in Spanish.