High Five Your Way to Perfect Portion Control
Six months ago, when one of my closest friends, Rachel, called me for nutrition advice on how to lose the 45 pounds she gained, she was frustrated with my initial suggestion that she swap as many foods as possible with healthier alternatives.
Rachel already had a grasp of which foods contribute to a healthy dietary lifestyle. Her diet consisted mostly of fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole grains. If I was going to give my friend the help she hoped I would provide, I had to ask a different, more difficult question.
“Rachel, how much are you eating?”
Truth is, even after incorporating nutritionally dense foods in our diets, a lot of us share Rachel’s confusion. What does one serving of grilled chicken look like? How many ounces should I be eating per serving? How many servings per day? Per week?
The guessing game is over. The secret to portion control is in the palm of your hand. Or rather, it is your actual hand!
Follow this handy reference guide when you’re purchasing, preparing, or enjoying your meals.
The palm of our hands is equal to about 3 ounces or 1 serving of lean meat like poultry, beef, fish and shellfish. We should have about 2 servings, or two palms, of lean meat per day.
A handful is equal to 1-2 ounces of snacks, like nuts or pretzels.
A fist is equivalent to 1 cup. Use this reference to estimate portion sizes of cereal, pasta, rice, fruit, and veggies. ½ a cup or one fist is equal to one serving of cereal, cooked pasta or rice, chopped fruits or veggies. 1 cup or 1 fist is equal to one serving of raw, leafy veggies.
A thumb is equal to 1 ounce of cheese. We should have about 2-3 servings of low-fat cheese, yogurt, or milk daily. The tip of the thumb is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. Keep this in mind for foods like nut butters and condiments.
Last weekend, after joining Rachel for her first 5K run, we stopped on the way home for some celebratory fajitas. I watched Rachel’s eyes glance from the palm of her hand to her plate, and remembered the conversation we had half a year ago when she was 45 pounds heavier. Overwhelmed with pride of her successful weight loss journey, I put my tortilla down and lifted both of my hands too, only higher.
“Up top, Rach!”