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When It Comes to Food Portions, Eat With Your Hands

By Sara Butler

Food in Your Hands

In the new year, the focus will be on health. After gorging on rich food and treats over the holiday season, many people will focus on getting back on the healthy eating wagon. But not you -- because you’re already going to be ahead of the curve, by a hand.

When it comes to eating healthy, what you eat certainly matters. But one factor that is just as important (and often overlooked) is how much you’re eating. Portion size plays a huge role in how healthy a food actually is for you.

Think about it: even a healthy choice such as a salad can go off the rails fast if you add too much dressing or cheese. If only there was a way you could know how much of what you need to eat without carrying a measuring cup and scale around in your bag. Well, today’s your lucky day because there is. Actually, you hold the secret right in the palm of your hand.

Your hands are the perfect way to gauge portion size. For one thing, they’re always with you -- unless you were in an unfortunate bladesmithing accident. Their size reflects how much you should eat because, well, bigger people with bigger hands (and bigger glove sizes) need larger servings than smaller people. Finally, if you can remember these easy portion control tips, then your hands make it easy to know how much of something you should be eating. It’s almost as if they were made for you and eating.

Here are some easy ways you can use your hands to jumpstart your commitment to improved health and healthy eating this year. You could say this advice is pretty handy.

Let the hand puns begin!

Your Fist

Make a fist with your hand. That is roughly equal to one cup. That’s one serving of raw, leafy green vegetables. Half the size of your fist is equal to one serving of cooked pasta, rice, or cereal. It’s also about one serving of raw or cooked vegetables and fruit, of which one serving is about one-half cup.

Your Palm

Stretch your hand out, palm up. That’s about the size of three ounces of meat. You need two servings (or palms) of lean meats such as shellfish, beef, fish, and poultry per day as a part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Your Thumb

Give yourself a thumbs up and you have a good idea of about how much cheese you can eat to help you meet the servings you should eat per day from the dairy food group. Having a slice of cheese the size and width of your thumb gets you one of the recommended two to three servings of dairy you need to stay healthy.

The Tip of Your Thumb

The tip of your thumb, from the middle knuckle to the tip, is equal to about one teaspoon. That’s about how much you should have of high-fat foods and condiments such as mayonnaise or peanut butter. This is a great rule of thumb to help you limit these types of foods in your diet.

A Handful

You know that old saying -- one handful of nuts and candy is equal to two in the bush. Or something like that.

You can limit your penchant to snack and keep the level respectable and healthy by having one handful of nuts or candies to limit it to one ounce. For pretzels or chips, two handfuls equal about one ounce.

The Ball in Your Hand

To help you gauge how much fruit you should have, think of a tennis ball. True, this has nothing to do with our hand beyond holding a tennis ball there, but one tennis ball that fits easily in your hand is equal to one serving of fruit -- and you need two to four servings of fruit per day for a healthy diet.

When you were growing up, you may have been told to not eat with your hands. But as an adult, you hold the key to healthy eating in your hands, quite literally. Commit these measurements to memory and you’ll be on the way to a healthier you before you can clap your hands together.

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