Shortcuts to Healthier Portion Sizes

The Canadian Food Guide recently launched its 2019 edition which offers a closer look at the exact portion sizes adults can expect to consume to lead a healthy lifestyle.  However, the biggest concern is remembering the jumble of numbers and food restrictions that apply.  How many people are aware what 3 tablespoons entail? How about 5 grams of fruits? The easiest way to break down these barriers to healthier diet is to use useful rules of thumb.  Having many useful rules of thumb can help busy AU students approximate the amount of each nutrient category that should be consumed without digging through a pamphlet for more information.  Personally, despite having the Canadian Food Guide printed and taped to my fridge door, I prefer having mental shortcuts that will help me making healthier food choices whether I am eating out or at home.  What do these shortcuts look like?

Zimbabwe Hand Jive

Zimbabwe hand jive is one of these helpful measurement tools to help us make healthy choices each meal.  Moreover, it makes remembering portion sizes fun and easy to remember.

Holding both your palms open like so gives you an estimate of what 1 cup of vegetables looks like.  Adults should aim for approximately 6 cups of vegetables in a day.

The size of only the palm is about 1 serving size of protein.  This does not mean the entire hand, just the palm of the hand.  According to the Canada Food Guide, 2-3 serving sizes of Meat and alternatives should be aimed for in a day.

The size of a small fist indicates 1 serving size of fruit.  On average, the Canadian Food Guide recommends about 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies in a day.  Remember that vegetable serving sizes are larger than fruit serving sizes due to the reduced sugar content of the former.

One fist-sized amount of carbohydrates indicates 1 serving size.  On average we are encouraged to consume 6-8 serving sizes of carbohydrates in a day.  Aim for whole-wheat or complex carbohydrates (buckwheat, oatmeal, lentil, chickpeas for example) as opposed to refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta and sugars).

1 glass of milk or a small container of yogurt as shown above account for 1 serving size of dairy products.  Canada Food Guide recommends about 2-3 servings of dairy products in a day.

1 thumb unit help estimate a single serving size worth of fat and oils.  For healthier diets, choose plant-based oils such as vegetable oil, olive or avocado oil.  If you must use butter or solid fats, aim for fats low in sodium.

Portioned plates

Part of the reason for an increased diabetes and obesity rates include the rise of larger diameter plates.  The larger the plate, the less our portions are controlled.  Think of the oversized plates offered at local restaurants that are increasingly becoming popular in our homes.  These plates can be purchased online such as Amazon or eBay.