Eating healthy isn’t just about eating good clean food full of all the right nutrients. It’s also a case of eating no more or less than your body requires at any given moment, making meal portion sizes something well worth talking about.
The position of science is that food is essentially fuel that your body will have to process once consumed, one way or another, whether you need it or not. Sometimes processing that fuel involves converting it into an energy cell it can store, such as fat, and save the energy it contains for a rainy day, should one ever come.
So the takeaway is that you shouldn’t put in your body more fuel than you require. Instead, look for ways to gauge the quantity of food that you should be consuming, given your needs, and ensure the food you select is of a kind that will leave you feeling satisfied once finished.
Therefore the question is – what is the system for gauging the amount of food your meals should consist of?
Funny Things, Hands
For most people, the size of their hands is proportionate to the size of their body.
This makes hands a kind of ‘Standard Candle’ for nutrition, because the size of our stomachs and our appetites is also directly proportionate to the size of our bodies. Using ‘handfuls’ as a measuring device therefore makes the tough work of measuring out food much simpler for our day-to-day decisions about the food we eat.
Hand size is intuitive. We can look at things and determine, roughly speaking, whether or not it would fit in our hand, without actually having to grab hold of it. This is another advantage of using hands as a measuring reference for food portion sizes.
Here’s the rule I use for my clients…
- A snack is 1 handful of food
- A meal is 3 to 4 handfuls of food
- A healthy meal from the Healthy Meal Template is 2 handfuls of vegetables, 1 handful of proteins and 1 handful of carbs
When considering soups, I tend to judge the volume by imagining how much of the soup I could hold in my hands if I cupped them, and then I factor each of those sets of cupped-hand-scoops of soup as a handful. This also works for smoothies and other liquids!
Remember that you should feel satiated by your food, and if the above quantities are not providing you with a satisfied appetite then you should consider making adjustments to the kind of food that you’re eating.
Food not only needs to contain the vital nutrients that your body is begging you to feed it in order to be satiated by the food you put inside it, but it also needs to be absent certain combinations of man-made-chemicals, such as MSG.