What Do Healthy Food Portions Really Look Like?

What Do Healthy Food Portions Really Look Like?

With all the different sized meals at fast food joints and sit-down restaurants, it isn’t easy knowing exactly what a healthy portion size truly is.

Luckily, there’s a tool you can use to measure your food portions accurately. And luckier still, you already own it – your hand. Use this guide and your hand as a rule of thumb for portioning out your food. Remember that portion sizes matter, even if you’re eating healthy food! There can be too much of a good thing.


Use the size of your palm to estimate your protein portion (3-4 ounces) of meat, fish, poultry, or tofu.


Closing your fist is roughly the equivalent to about a 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces. You can use this to measure a single serving of vegetables like broccoli or carrots, or 8 ounces of a beverage like tomato juice.



A cupped hand is perfect for measuring about a ½ cup serving of carbs, such as grains, starches, and fruits.


Your thumb is the best way to estimate portions of fats, like oils, butters and seeds. It’s about one tablespoon, so you can go two thumbs up for servings of peanut butter, for example.

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Cupping both hands together will yield about 1 ounce of snack foods like chips, pretzels, or a similar alternative.

Of course, these aren’t hard-and-fast rules—everyone’s hands are different sizes and may be proportionally different to their bodies. But paying attention to portion sizes is important, and this is a great way to start.

Recommended Servings

These aren’t, of course, hard-set rules to eat by – everyone has different sized hands and may be proportionally different to the rest of their bodies. But keeping portion sizes in mind is nevertheless important, and this is a good, general way to start.

But before you start using your hand as a guide, be sure you’re up-to-date on each food group your body needs. Here’s a look at the daily recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide. These ranges are for adults and can vary depending on gender and age:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: 7–8 servings
  • Grain Products: 6–8 servings
  • Milk and Alternatives: 2–3 servings
  • Meat and Alternatives: 2–3 servings
  • Fats: 2–3 tablespoons

Photo Credit: Jose L. Stephens/Shutterstock.com; wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com

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