Portion Control In The Palm Of Your Hand

portion control

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


portion control

PALM = 3 – 4 ounces

Best for: • Beef • Pork • Poultry • Fish


portion control

THUMB = 1-2 Tablespoons

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


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. 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!

  2. 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!!

  3. 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.


    CONGRATULATIONS on your incredible weight loss! Also good point on the starchy items.

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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:@)

  8. 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!

  9. 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. ;)

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