The Handful Tool for Portion Control

Contributed by: Shellie Billingsley, NASM-CPT, NPTI

For many of us, the daily routine of work, cooking, family and other priorities can cause a great deal of stress. And if you’re trying to exercise and eat correctly, counting calories can sometimes feel like an added stress to your already busy life. Not to mention that most nutrition labels and calorie tracking sites are about 25% off in terms of how precise the calories actually are. That’s why “the handful diet” can be a simple yet effective tool when it comes to understanding portion control.

The handful diet is simply measuring your food with your own hands.

Here’s the breakdown of how to measure different foods in your daily diet:

Your palm = protein portions. Stick to lean meats such as chicken and fish. Strive for 1 to 2 portions per meal.

Your fist = veggie portions. Load up on greens and aim for 7 servings of veggies per day.

Your cupped hand = carbohydrate portions. Stick to 100% whole grains, fruits and starches and save them for after a moderate to tough workout.

Your thumb = fat portions such as oils, nuts, seeds and avocados. Aim for 2 portions per meal.

Overall, the quality of your food will be the most important factor when it comes to getting healthy from the inside out. A calorie is not just a calorie, and we cannot exercise our way out of a poor diet.


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