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By Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD

When choosing foods, we’re all guilty of “eyeballing” our portions. And it’s a top reason for overeating and weight creep! What we think looks like one portion is often much bigger. That’s because portions are super-sized everywhere we turn — and it’s easy to mindlessly pick a serving size that seems “normal” to us.

And while you can buy a variety of tools to help figure out a single serving size, there’s a simple one that is always available: your hand. It sounds simple, and it is! Try using these parts of your hand to guide your portion sizes for mostly everything you eat. This tip will be particularly helpful when you’re out during the holiday season — and nowhere near a food scale or color-coded portion container.

Part of Your Hand: Single serving size

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Palm of your hand: 3 ounces protein (beef, chicken, fish, tofu)

Fist: 1 cup serving of vegetables, fruits, or grains

Whole fruit (apple, pear, orange) or potato


Front of your fist, up to your knuckles: ½ cup serving

Length of your thumb: 1 ounce of cheese or nuts

Top thumb joint: 1 tablespoon (peanut butter, salad dressing, oil, butter)

It’s lot easier to be mindful about portions when you have an easy tool – right at your fingertips!

Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is the NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.

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