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How big is a serving? How to find the optimal portion size

Healthy Eating - Portion Control (May 2019).


We eat what's on our plate. Often that is too much. The hand as a portion measure can help to cook in proper quantities.

An American study of Cornell University in the US found out: What is on the plate, is also eaten. We no longer rely on our satiety, but on the portions.

It's not just us, but also the food industry. Many restaurants offer "All You Can Wat" or advertise with XXL dishes.

But: portions that are too big, make you fat. They lead to feeling of fullness and in no time to overweight. Everyone probably heard this sentence in their childhood: "Eat your plate empty, so that the sun shines tomorrow." When we grow up, this behavior is always in the back of our minds. When we cook, we do not want to throw any of it away and in company it even seems rude to leave a rest on the plate. The logical consequence: we have to portion our food differently. To lose weight successfully, moderation must also be learned.

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But how big should an optimal portioned meal be?

The data in grams are often very difficult to implement, since such a procedure always requires the exact examination with a kitchen scale when cooking. A much easier way is to measure portions when we use our hands to help. Not even the diet needs to be changed. Hands are of different sizes, grow along and can decide on the right portion sizes. Children, for example, need smaller portions because they have smaller hands. Men often have bigger hands than women and that fits in with their increased calorie needs. The unit of measure "hand" is therefore very reliable. Some foods can be in both hands while others should only fit in one hand.

A handful is often enough

  • For side dishes like pasta, potatoes or rice, two hands are enough.
  • Fruit in the piece, such as an apple, an orange should fit in a hand. For smaller or shredded vegetables or fruit, both hands may be measured (cherries, chopped cucumbers).
  • A piece of meat should always be as big as the palm of your hand.
  • Fat is always measured in tablespoons. Depending on the age is more or less allowed.
  • It becomes difficult with sweets: no more than a full palm are allowed. Preference should be given to low-calorie variants

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