We’ve all heard the saying “Too much of a good thing.” This proves to be true in nutrition and health. Even if your diet consists of the nutrient dense foods, it’s important to keep portion sizes in mind so that you aren’t overeating and taking away from your efforts to eat right.
When we’re meal prepping for the week or making dinner, we have easy access to measuring cups, scales, and tools to make sure that our portion sizes are in accordance to our meal plans. But what about the times when we’re out to eat or throwing together a quick meal on the go? A useful tool that we can use to control our portion sizes and stay on track is learning to visualize serving sizes by comparing them to every day household objects and even your own hand!
Below is a list of common portion sizes paired with the area of your hand and a household item that can be used to represent them.
Tip of your thumb (between tip of thumb and first knuckle)
Examples: Oils, dressings, butter
Thumb (tip of thumb to the base)
Examples: Nut butters, dressings, oils
3 oz of Meat
Palm of your hand
Deck of cards
Examples: Chicken, beef
Examples: mixed nuts, pretzels, trail mix
Half of a fist full
Examples: Rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables
Here’s an example of a day’s meals and how you can apply the above information to eat appropriate portion sizes:
Breakfast: 1/2 cup of oats (billard ball)
1/2 cup of blueberries (billiard ball)
1 tablespoon peanut butter (thumb)
Snack: Apple (tennis ball/fist)
2 oz mixed nuts (small handful)
Lunch: 3 oz Grilled Chicken Breast (palm of hand)
2-cup vegetable medley (two fists)
Dinner out: Chicken Parmesan and side salad
Pasta (set aside a serving the size of your fist for dinner and put the rest in a to-go box to save for another meal)
Chicken (size of your palm)
Side Salad (2 cups of mixed greens/vegetables is the size of two fists. Ask for the dressing on the side and use 1 tablespoon, the size of your thumb or a golf ball)
Paying attention to serving sizes using tips and tricks like these allows you to control calorie intake without having to worry about all the details of food preparation. Apply them to your daily routine for easy portion control!
Andrew Wade, the author of this blog post, is a Registered Dietitian and the founder of Case Specific Nutrition. To learn about their services or for more tips and tricks like those found in this article, schedule a consultation with a Registered Dietitian at Case Specific Nutrition!
Case Specific Nutrition is also a member of the Pittsburgh Fitness Council, a professional member organization that strives to connect the best professionals in the area to provide and enhance client services. For more information about PFC and its members, please visit www.pghfitcouncil.com.