A crucial part of healthy eating is understanding what a reasonable portion size looks like to create a balanced relationship with food.
Using hands to measure portions is a good approach for most people who don’t need very specific amounts of foods or macronutrients.
Why your hands you ask?
Hands are a consistent size, providing a consistent reference, and hands scale with the individual.
Bigger people need more food and have a tendency to have bigger hands, so they also have larger portions.
A smaller person needs less food and tends to have smaller hands, so smaller portions are served to them.
Hand-size portions make it easy to keep track of food choices, nutrients, and energy. By doing so, most people are able to avoid time-consuming and unnecessary weighing and measuring.
How to measure with your hand:
A serving of protein = 1 palm
A serving of vegetables = 1 fist
A serving of carbs = 1 cupped hand
A serving of fats = 1 thumb
Here are a few tricks I like to use to make sure I’m not going overboard on portion sizes — I especially keep these in mind with the holiday season approaching, when we’re indulging a bit more. These tips don’t restrict what you eat but help you stay mindful about how you’re eating.
Serve yourself on smaller plates
One of the quickest ways to reduce your portions is to change your plating. As for me, I regularly eat off of a small bowl as my main plate - and filling a small bowl is more like a healthy serving. The bowl also tricks your eyes, since it is filled, rather than using a large plate and leaving a lot of space.
Whenever possible, use whole, fresh foods when preparing meals. Occasionally, we may use sauces and dressings. Making it a habit to read labels will help you avoid those serving-size traps.
Don’t forget to stay mindful when you dine out
Sometimes, it's great to get takeout or go out to dinner with your friends. In restaurants, you tend to get meals that are twice as big as a reasonable portion or even bigger. Consider splitting the order if you're getting takeout for yourself and enjoying the remainder the next day. As an alternative, you can split an entrée with someone else, or order an appetizer and small salad. My personal preference is to just order a smaller main meal and skip the entree or appetizer.
To curb hunger, make sure you stay hydrated. Excessive eating is also related to dehydration. Once you learn about how to keep your portions in line with their true sizes and how to eat the right kind of foods, you will notice the results you've been working toward.