What is a serving?

A serving size is a reference amount of food which contains a specific caloric value. Table 4 lists amounts of foods that are equal to one serving for each of the food groups for diets corresponding to the three energy levels (1 300 kcal, 2 200 kcal and 2 800 kcal).

The amount of food that a person takes on their plate (that they plan to eat in one sitting) may correspond to one or more servings, depending on how much food they take. For instance, an apple eaten after a meal equals one serving of fruit. If a banana is also eaten at the same meal, this would count as 2 servings of fruit (1 apple + 1 banana). Half a naan eaten at one meal counts as two servings of grain products, since one serving is defined as quarter of a naan.

The information from Table 3 and Table 4 should be combined to show how much food to recommend from a particular food group per day. For example, for the meat, fish and eggs group, one serving is defined as 75 kcal. From the example food items given for this group, one large hardboiled egg gives (approximately) 75 kcal. From Table 3, for the 2 200 kcal energy level, this suggests that 2 eggs are needed per day. However, ideally, a person will not be eating only eggs from within this group for the whole day. Including 1 serving of cooked beef or lamb (30 grams) in addition to the one egg will result in consuming the ideal quantity needed for the day from this food group. However, to reach the target energy intake of 2 200 kcal, foods from all the other food groups need to be eaten in the amounts recommended within the same day. Tables 3 and 4 have been designed so that the ideal patterns results in at least 94% of the target energy, fat, protein and carbohydrates levels being achieved.

It is important to keep in mind that Tables 3 and 4 are provided only as a model, to give an idea of the approximate amounts of food needed from each food group every day. Another way to check if foods are eaten from all the food groups in the recommended proportions is by looking at the plate sizes in the Food Guide in the next section. The plate size for each food indicates the relative size or proportion of each of the food groups that should be consumed daily. The proportions are based on how the food is seen visually on the table, as well as the relative contribution to dietary energy from each food group. The proportion given is intended to highlight the foods that should be eaten in larger amounts, compared with those that should be eaten less. The graphic is not a mathematically correct representation of this proportion, but just a visual guide.

It is also important to remember that a balanced diet must be composed of a variety of different foods from each of the food groups. The nutrient composition of foods commonly consumed in Afghanistan is given in Annex C.

Table 11: What counts as a serving?

Cereals and tubers1 serving = ~140 kcal.

~1/4 Naan (50 g piece); ~2/3 cup (125 g) cooked brown or white rice; ~1/4 cup (40 g) raw brown or white rice; 1 small potato boiled (160 g boiled weight); 1 medium sized potato raw (200 g including skin); ~ 2/3 cup (90 g) cooked macaroni or vermicelli; ~1/4cup raw macaroni or vermicelli (40 g)

Pulses, beans, nuts and seeds1 serving = ~140 kcal.

~1/2 cup (100 g) boiled lentils/peas (chickpeas, green peas)/mung beans; ~1/4 cup (40 g) raw dry lentils/peas (chickpeas, green peas)/mung beans; 20 g walnuts; 30 g almonds or pistachios; 2 tablespoon (30 g) sesame seeds.

Dairy (milk and products)1 serving = ~70 kcal.

~½ cup whole cow’s milk or goat’s milk; ¼ cup sheep milk or buffalo milk; 15-20 g whole milk powder (which when reconstituted makes ½ cup of liquid milk); ~½ cup (120 g) plain yoghurt made from whole milk; 20 g cottage cheese; 20 g sweetened condensed milk.

Meat, fish and eggs1 serving = ~70 kcal.

30 g cooked lean beef or lean lamb; 55 g raw lean beef or lean lamb; 30 g cooked chicken (stewed, meat only); 60 g raw chicken breast without skin or 30 g raw chicken legs without skin; 1 large, hardboiled egg; 30g-60 g cooked fish (cooked with dry heat); 50 g boiled beef liver; 55g raw beef liver; 30 g cooked lamb liver; 50g raw lamb liver.

Fruit1 serving = ~80 kcal.

1 small apple with peel; 1 small banana; 1 pear; 1 tablespoon (~30 g) dried fruit e.g. raisins; 1 large slice melon; 1 large pitted, dried date (30 g); 2 small plums or apricots; ~100 g grapes.

Vegetables1 serving = ~35 kcal.

1 cup cooked vegetables, 1/2 cup raw vegetables, although it will depend on the vegetable, for example: 1 cup boiled beetroot slices (85 g) or 1/2 cup raw beetroot; ~1 cup (100 g) boiled okra or raw okra, or ~1/4cup fried okra (25 g); ~1 cup (100 g) boiled carrot slices or raw carrot slices; ~1 cup boiled, mashed pumpkin or 1 cup raw pumpkin.

Fats and oils1 serving = ~45 kcal.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil (5 g); ~1 teaspoon butter (6 g); 1 teaspoon ghee from cow’s milk (5 g); 1 teaspoon sheep fat (rump) (5 g).

Notes: An empty cup = 250 ml; 1 teaspoon = 5 ml; 1 tablespoon = 15 ml. The weight of each food will depend on its density (for example, the weight of 2/3 cup of cooked macaroni is only ~90 g, while the weight of 2/3 cup cooked rice is ~125 g. This is because macaroni has a smaller density than rice, so a smaller mass (weight) is needed to make up the same volume (2/3 cup).


Table 12: Ten Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Afghans

1.  Eat different types of foods daily

•        Use different foods from each food group daily because all foods in each group do not always

•         Contain the same type of nutrients for example

•         Lemon is rich in Vitamin C

•         Mango is rich in Vitamin A

•          When planning what to cook for a meal, think of different colors,

tastes, and nutrients

2.  Eat different kinds of fruits and vegetables daily
•                Add vegetables to meat and rice dishes
•                Use vegetables as part of a meal
•                Add vegetables to soups
•                Prepare vegetable salads
•                Eat local vegetables
•                Eat fruit for snacks
o   Use fruit as part of a meal
o   fruit salads for desserts
o   Add fruit to vegetable salads
o   Use fruit to make interesting drinks
o   Eat local fruits when in season
3.  Eat lean meat and less meat fats
•        Remove skin and fat from chicken and meats before cooking
•        Do not use skin and fats removed from poultry and meat
4.   Reduce sugar intake and drink less gassy drinks
•        Drink clean water instead of sweetened drinks
•        Choose to drink 100% fruit juice, plain water Or milk instead of gassy or carbonated drinks
5.  Use less salt, fats and processed foods
•        Choose less salty snacks
•        Use unsalted nuts
•        Use fresh meat and fish
•        Do not add salt to food at table ;Remove salt from the table
•        Reduce the amount of salt used in cooking
•        Use less dried meat
•        Choose fresh foods instead of packaged foods
•        Avoid using cured, pickled and bottled foods
6.   Pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat extra  amounts of    
       nutritious foods
•                Eat extra vegetables and fruit daily
•                Eat extra meat, fish or eggs each day
•                Eat at least 4 times each day
7.  Give baby only breast milk for first 6 months
  • Start breast feeding within One hour after baby is born
  • Feed on demand – Spend more time
·         Breast feeding to increase milk production
  • Breast feed both day and night.
·         Eating extra nutritious food, provides for the demands placed on the woman’s body by pregnancy
8.  Feed different nutritious foods in addition to breast milk to infants after 6 months of age and keep feeding breast milk  until 24 months
·         Introduce iron-rich cereals, vegetables and fruit and meat after 6 months.
·         Introduce only one new food at a time then Combine foods later
·         The food of children should not be watery but it should semi-solid like HALWA or FERNI
9.  Use clean and safe water for hand washing, drinking and food preparation
·       Boil water or use water
·       From a safe source
10.    Include a sport in your daily activities at least 20-30 minutes
·         Do sport activities with family members
·         Walk instead of driving when going short distances
·         Get involved in community sporting   activities
 Walk to the neighbor instead of using the telephone


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