A Handy Guide to Portion Control

Hands cupped, holding collection of berriesMost of us have trouble controlling our portion sizes—at least sometimes. But it’s no wonder we’re not sure what an appropriate amount of food looks like, considering the huge portions doled out by many restaurants. Here’s the good news: You can use your hand (yes, your hand!) to measure healthy portion sizes for anything from meats and cheeses to carbs and oils. Here’s how:


Use your palm. A good serving size of most proteins is about three to five ounces, which corresponds roughly to the size of your open palm.


Use your cupped hand. The size of your palm in your cupped hand is about two ounces—the perfect portion of carbohydrates like rice, pasta or bread, or starch veggies like potatoes.

Veggies and fruits

Use your fist. A one-cup serving of veggies or fruit is about the size of a closed fist. Of course, if you want to eat more veggies, use all the fists you want!


Use your thumb. For high-fat foods like nuts, nut butters and cheeses, your portion should be the size of your entire thumb, or about one ounce. For oils and butter, match the portion to the size of your first thumb joint (about a tablespoon).

On the go

Of course, we often make our worst food choices when we’re in a hurry or on the go. But, by understanding how to use our hand to measure ounces, tablespoons or cups, we can make quick, smart decisions on the spot. For example, if you want some popcorn at the movies, you can share a bag and eat about one fist-sized serving (one cup). Or, if you’re having a carb attack, pour out a cupped palmful of pretzels to snack on.