Portion Control In The Palm Of Your Hand

Portion Control 1

About six weeks ago it occurred to me that my daughter was getting married in……SIX WEEKS!  I started to panic a little (OK…a LOT!)  Not because I had so much to do, or because my only daughter was “leaving the nest”, but because there would be a photographer at the wedding TAKING PICTURES! :-)

So 6 weeks ago I embarked on a weight loss program that my brother Kevin recommended and I’ve actually lost about 20 pounds!  woo hoo for me. lol. Just two more weeks to go til the wedding….so I’m giving it my all!  I’m drinking so much water I might just float away!

Anyway, to make a long story short…one of the things that I’ve really been trying to focus on is portion control!  I was watching a doctor talk about how important it is on the Rachael Ray show recently so I decided to do a little research and found this super simple way to judge whether the serving size of what you are eating is in line with your diet.

Of course a food scale, measuring cups, and measuring spoons are the most accurate way to measure portions,  but they’re not always practical. This method gives you an easy way to judge a reasonable serving right in the palm of your hand!

The other benefit of the hand method is that it ensures you are eating portions relative to your body size. Since you base your meal size comparatively to the size of your hand, men will more likely be eating a larger portion than that of women (don’t get me started!)

Here’s how it works:

portion control

FIST = 1 Cup

Best for: • Beverages • Cereal • Casseroles • Soups • Fresh fruit • Raw vegetables • Salads

portion control


Best for: • Pasta • Rice • Beans • Potatoes • Cooked vegetables • Pudding • Ice Cream

portion control

2 CUPPED HANDS = 1 ounce

Best for: • Chips • Crackers • Pretzels

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PALM = 3 – 4 ounces

Best for: • Beef • Pork • Poultry • Fish

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THUMB = 1-2 Tablespoons

Best for: • Salad dressing • Sour cream • Cream cheese • Peanut butter • Hard Cheeses

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THUMB TIP = 1 Teaspoon

Best for: • Butter • Margarine • Mayonnaise • Oil


I love this idea so much, I decided to make myself a “cheat sheet” for it (in the form of a printable) and decided to share it!


portion control


Now that you know what portions are supposed to look like…here are a few more portion control tips to keep you on the right track.


  • When dining at restaurants known for their jumbo portions, split an entree or take half home for later.
  • Be mindful. Pay attention to how much butter you slather on bread and to the dressing you pour on your salad.
  • Eat off smaller plates and bowls.  A serving of pasta can look pathetic on a 10-inch dinner plate, but appears much more satisfying on an 8-inch one.
  • “Cheat” with vegetables. If you must super-size, do so with salad, broccoli and other low-calorie, nutritious produce.
  • Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal that your stomach has had enough.
  • Practice makes perfect. Measure out a cup of cereal and half cup of milk for a few weeks. Eventually, you will be able to eyeball the correct amount.
Source: Arizona State University

It’s really all about having a visual in your head of everyday portion sizes so that it becomes second nature. Now you have all the ‘tools on hand’ whenever and wherever you eat.


What’s your worst portion control buster?  Mine is potato chips! :-(

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  1. says

    We sort of use the hand method at our house. No matter what, 1/2 to 3/4 of our plat has to be fruit and vegetables and the other portion can be a protein and starch. With that and exercise, my hubby has lost 45 lbs and I have lost 20.

    (And, once a week we have an eat what you want meal.)

    Good job and Happy Wedding!

  2. says

    Jillee, the best portion size for about 2 thirds of your list is “don’t even look in that direction!” Crackers and pretzels? No matter how little you eat, they are still junk! Try the Paleo diet and you won’t have to worry so much about portion size. I’m not going to deliver a lecture on Paleo eating here – there’s plenty information online. But I’ll also tell you this. The biggest meal of your day (screw the portion size!) should be breakfast! Lunch should be a little lighter and dinner should be very small and light. I know it’s hard for an American to embrace this way of eating and that’s partly why obesity is such a big problem in this country but it’s the only way that makes sense: you have to fill your car with gas before you drive it, not vice versa. I know many people say they are not hungry in the morning but they would be if they didn’t eat a huge dinner the night before. I know it from my own experience, it works.

    In any case, good luck with your weight loss, just don’t overdo it or you’ll have to buy a new dress right before the wedding. ;)

    • says

      Amen. I wouldn’t touch most of the items listed with a 10-foot pole.

      And the tip about watching butter intake? No thanks. I get delicious grassfed butter if I don’t make my own with raw cream, and it is DELICIOUS. I spread it on everything. That, and coconut oil.

      The GOOD, healthy saturated fats help keep you satiated, and full, and tell your body to burn FAT vs. muscle. So many good things.

      You do not need portion control if you eat the right foods.

      However, so many of us are addicted to the MSG and other things food companies put in their food to make it addicting, less satisfying (so we need to keep eating). In that case, unless you have iron willpower, portion control won’t work. You need to detox your body of all those chemicals, and then eat as much real food as possible, THAT way, your weight loss will be real, you will be healthier, etc. etc.

      I know this isn’t a real foodie blog, but this specific post called for some comments about real food vs. the junk food most people eat.

      I do not have any junk food in my house. It takes a bit more time to make meals from scratch.. But I have been suffering from Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue symptoms and hypothyroidism, along with adrenal fatigue. FINALLY was diagnosed earlier this year. No matter what, even on a whole food (real food diet), I have not been able to budge. (I am 5’8″ and 155 lbs, on the higher end of the normal BMI range for me but I would prefer to be 140-145 for my height). But because of that diet, I am not overweight. I take care of my body and now that I am seeing a naturopathic doctor and the weight is just slipping off, even as I am adding MORE full fat raw cream, raw whole milk, grassfed beef, cheese, bacon (tons of bacon!) and pastured eggs. Tons of calories, delicious food, weight loss.

      I feel awesome (I am not 100% yet) but I feel super amazing compared to how I have felt for the past 18 years. Woohoo!

  3. Meri says

    I have been on a diet for a few months now and have lost 21.5 pounds so far with calorie counting and, walking, and Zumba. I have another 40 pounds to lose before my wedding in May! Please share the diet you followed please! I need a jump start! Thanks!! PS: love the chart! It’s going up in my kitchen!

  4. Happier Than A Pig In Mud says

    This sounds like very practical advice! Congrats on both your weight loss and the upcoming wedding-have fun:@)

  5. Jane says

    Did you lose the 20 lbs. by watching portions, or was there a special diet to follow? 20 lbs in 6 weeks is very good so I would like to try the same.

  6. Tia Robertson says

    Mine is tapioca pudding… I can eat the whole batch without looking (it barely makes it out of the pot before I have a spoon in it). Best wishes to the bride and groom!

  7. brenda says

    this is what the nutritionist told me when my hsb was dx with diabetes. amazingly this is easier to keep the glucose in order than cking with a carb/calorie chart.

  8. Lori says

    Ruffles potato chips WITH Dean’s onion dip…..can’t stop eating it!!! Oh,,, and salted pop corn!!

    Favorite thing…and I CAN use portion control on this one…..vanilla ice cream with either Bailey’s Irish Cream or Kahlua on top. Ummmm…Yummm

    Best Wishes for a beautiful wedding….I know it will be wonderful!!! Congratulation!!

  9. Pam says

    Mine is Mac and Cheese. Historically this is my diet buster! Today is my birthday though, and I have lost 100 lbs this year… and portion control and CHEWING did it for me. If you chew a potato chip or mac n cheese long enough you really don’t want to swallow it… it’s gross starch!

    So, please share your diet!