Nutrition Tip Tuesday: Portions

Hello friend! I like to start these things off as if we already know one another–makes them feel a bit more welcoming and friendly (well, I think so anyway).

As the national “eat until we are super uncomfortable” day approaches, I thought it apropos of us to discuss: portion size. (da dum duuuuhhhhhh–super scary music sound) Now, I am definitely not sitting here about to tell you to bypass on your Aunt Mary’s famous pecan pie or skimp on your Grandmother’s decadent mashed potatoes-which we know are more butter than potato; what I am referring to are the portion sizes of the other 1,092 meals we consume each year–that is if you eat 3 meals/day for 364 days/year.

In order to lose weight we must be in a caloric deficit, period. That’s just #science. In order to gain weight we must be in a caloric surplus, period. Again, #science. If our goal is to lose or gain weight then our plates at meals should reflect the goal. This is a very simplistic way to view the process, but oftentimes keeping it simple is the best way to go. So, how does one really know if he/she is in a caloric deficit or surplus thereby supporting his/her goals? There are loads of methods to track the amount of food consumed by a person on a daily basis: from free tracking apps, to weighing/measuring out foods, to going “old school” with a notebook and pen, the possibilities truly are endless. Yet, there will be situations where busting out the food scale may not be the most appropriate. So, then in those instances what can we do?

Educationally eyeball it, my friend. That is what we are going to do. Educationally. Eyeball. It. What on earth does that mean? Well, I am glad you asked. We are each equipped with a means of measurement that travels effortlessly with us wherever we go…our hand!

  • 1c = your fist or cupped hand
  • 1TBSP = the knuckle to tip of thumb
  • 1tsp = the first knuckle to tip of the index finger
  • 1oz = thumb
  • 3oz = palm of hand (not including the fingers/thumb)

Now, these are obviously rough estimates due to the fact we are all different sizes, but it is a great starting point. It is also more socially acceptable to measure a cup of pretzels using one’s hand at the office Christmas party than pulling the festive holiday measuring cups from your purse and then proceeding to the pretzel bowl.

Another way to monitor your portion size and somewhat trick the brain into thinking it is receiving more is the size of the plate itself. Studies have shown those who used a salad plate as opposed to a traditional dinner plate at meals consumed less calories overall. According to Cooking Light, “… the American dinner plate has increased 22% over the last century, from 9.62 inches to 11.75 inches.” Additionally, a healthy meal of salmon, green salad, and wild rice placed on a 12″ plate was roughly 779 calories whereas the same meal placed on a 9″ plate was roughly 519 calories. This is a healthy meal–no argument. However, if we are consuming more calories than we need or burning and our goal is fat/weight loss, then we aren’t going to win this battle even with the healthiest of meals on the plate. Same holds true if we are under eating and our goal is weight gain or lean muscle growth/retention. Plate size matters as it relates to supporting the goals we have set out for ourselves. They also prove to be a very helpful means of measurement without requiring much effort.

Today was short, sweet, and to the point. Hopefully this hands down (haha! #momjokes) has proven to be helpful and will get us closer to the goals we have set for ourselves!

Until next time,



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