Nutrition News: Understanding Portion Sizes

One thing that has always confused me and sometimes even misled me about eating healthy is portion sizes.  Sure, I know that fruit and vegetables are good for me but how much is the right amount?  Similarly, I know to choose whole wheat grains like pasta and lean meats, but again, what is the right amount?  Too much of any one type of food, no matter how healthy, is not good.  This is where portion sizes come into play.

Sure you can buy a kitchen scale and weigh all your food, but these days people struggle enough to find the time to prepare healthy meals, let alone weigh their food!  But there is a much easier way to estimate portion sizes without driving yourself crazy and it is in your hand.

Literally, your hand can be used to estimate most portion sizes.  For instance, it is recommended that we consume 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of veggies every day.  You can estimate 1 cup by cupping your two hands together.  So about 2 of those a day for each a fruit and veggie will get you to the recommended intake!

Need to measure half a cup?  Just take one cupped hand and you get half a cup.  A much easier way to measure cooked pasta for sure!

What about protein?  We’ve heard that protein should be no larger than a deck of cards, but who has a deck of cards on hand when preparing meals?  The palm of your hand is about 3oz, roughly half of your daily intake.

Another easy measuring trick is to use your two thumbs together to get 1 tbsp.  No guessing exactly how much oil to use or how much peanut butter to spread on your toast!

Now you won’t have to guess every time a recipe calls for 1 cup or 1 tbsp!




  1. Holly Nilson says:

    Very practice use of the “tools” we have at our “fingertips.” It is always a challenge to measure. We teach our children mnemonics like these because they work–so measuring with our hands and fingers makes sense!