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A Handy Guide to Portion Size

By Sara Butler

One of the keys to staying healthy is to watch the portion size of what you eat. This can be done in a couple of ways. First, you need to note the amount included in just one serving of whatever it is you’re eating, usually found on the package under the nutritional information. But if you don’t have your measuring cups handy and you need to simply eyeball what you’re eating, then you need help. Here’s a handy guide to portion sizes you can use to make sure you’re eating things in the proper amount!

One Cup

If you need to be able to visualize how much a 1-cup serving of your favorite food is, then look at your fist. One fist or a cupped hand is about a one cup serving. Also, note that 1 cup is equal to about:

  • 2 servings of fruit juice
  • 1 ounce of cold cereal
  • 2 ounces of cooked rice, pasta or cereal
  • 8 ounces of yogurt or milk

One Ounce

If you need to be able to visualize how much an ounce is then use your thumb. For example, a 1 ounce serving of cheese is about the same size as your outstretched thumb. You need dairy as part of a balanced diet every day, and a thumb-sized piece of cheese is equal to about 8 ounces of yogurt or milk – so eat with caution!

One Handful

If you grab a handful of your favorite snacks such as pretzels or nuts, then that’s about an ounce of that food. Be careful when it comes to snacking by the handful because those calories add up quick!

Your Palm

When you’re thinking about how much meat you’re eating, your palm is roughly the same size as a 3 ounce serving of meat such as fish, shellfish, poultry or beef. The palm of a child under 5 is about 2 ounces.

The Tip of Your Thumb

The tip of your thumb is roughly the size of 1 teaspoon. When you eat high-fat foods such as butter, peanut butter or mayonnaise, try to keep it to the size of your thumb from about the knuckle up. It’s the “rule of thumb” for keeping those condiments in check!

A Tennis Ball

Imagine the size of a tennis ball and you’ve got a half cup of fruit or vegetables. A healthy diet should include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every single day, so get as many colors as you can in tennis ball increments!

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