Portion Control by the Handful

Posted On Jan 9, 2014 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

veggie quiche

Do you know how much one serving of meat is? Or rice? Do fill your cereal bowl to the brim and call that a serving?

Portion control is an essential part of losing and maintaining weight. Even if you swap out burgers and fries for grilled chicken, brown rice, and veggies, the amount of food you eat is still important. Although most people don't become overweight by overdoing it on the fruit bowl, even eating too much of something healthy, like fruit, can prevent you from losing weight.

Serving sizes from restaurants to the produce aisle have ballooned out of control with softball-sized apples and potatoes twice as large as what a healthy portion should be.  Without having to get out the measuring cups and scale to painstakingly measure everything you eat, here are some easy tips to keep your portions in check:

  • One thumb = 1 serving of cheese
  • One fist or a baseball = 1 serving of fruit, rice or pasta
  • One palm or a deck of cards = 1 serving of meat or fish (3-4oz)
  • Two golf balls = 1 serving of ice cream
  • Hands cupped together = 2 cups of salad greens
  • Computer mouse = medium potato

If portion control is challenging for you, it may be beneficial to measure your food out for a few days. I highly recommend combining this strategy with a food log if you're trying to lose weight. Additionally, use this guide when dining out or at a social event when you might not be in control of what or how much is served to you.

It isn't just our food and portions that are getting bigger, so is our dinnerware. Another trick to keeping portions in control is to use smaller bowls, plates, and glasses. Try eating dinner on a salad plate. It's harder to overeat the smaller your dish is. This really works!