A photo of a person holding a plate of healthy dish

By Dr. Liza Ramoso-Ong

How much food should you eat? To control your weight, you must gauge the size of the meal. Controlling one’s weight also helps prevent diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Look at the accompanying figure. Nutritionists have developed a simple guide using the hands. Your hand can be used to estimate serving size. The following are the recommended portion size for a meal (lunch or dinner):

  1. For Vegetables: Use the middle part of two open hands to guide you for your serving of vegetables.
  2. For Carbohydrates: Use a clenched fist to estimate your serving of grain products. A cup or serving of rice or spaghetti is approximately equal to your fist.
  3. For Protein: Use the palm area of one hand (without the fingers) to measure a serving of protein such as beef, pork, chicken or fish. For example, a serving of chicken breast or lean beef should be the size of your palm.
  4. For Fruit Snack: Take a fist-size serving of fruit as a snack between meals. An apple or a banana can serve as a snack.
  5. For Fats: Use a thumb size (the tip of the thumb only) for your serving of fat or oil. This is equivalent to one tablespoonful. If your food is fried, then you don’t need to consume added fats.
  6. For Optional Butter or Margarine: Should you want to use butter for your bread, you may estimate the amount of butter by using the tip of your forefinger. The first joint of your forefinger is roughly equal to one teaspoon. One small teaspoon is the optional serving size for butter. But if you can forego the butter, then that is even better.

Healthy Eating Tips:

Our food is divided into carbohydrates, protein and fats. On the average, 60% of the total calories should go to carbohydrates, 20% to proteins and 20% to fats. Here are some guidelines:

For carbohydrates, there are so-called bad and good carbohydrates.

Bad carbohydrates make the blood sugar rise quickly, while good carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly and have a lesser effect on the blood sugar. Hence, brown rice, wheat bread and whole wheat products (good carbohydrates) are generally healthier than white rice and white bread. Diabetics and overweight people also need to lessen their fat intake and should try to limit eating fried foods, fried rice, French fries and egg noodles.

For protein products, choose lean meats, and remove visible fat from pork and beef

The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than six ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, fish or seafood a day. This is about the size of two decks of cards only per day, which is roughly the size of your palm. The leanest beef cuts usually include sirloin, chuck, loin and round. Choose “choice” or “select” grades rather than “prime.” Select lean or extra lean ground meats. Lean pork cuts include tenderloin or loin chops. Remove all visible fat from meat and poultry before cooking. Duck and goose are higher in fat than chicken and turkey. Grilled, baked or broiled meats are healthier. Organ meats, such as liver, sweetbread, kidneys and brains, are very high in cholesterol. Cut back on processed meats that are high in sodium and saturated fat.

As a protein source, fish can be healthier than meat.

Recent studies show that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, sardines, mackerel and salmon) may help prevent a heart attack or stroke. Prepare fish baked, broiled, grilled or boiled rather than breaded or fried.

Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of good carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Ideally, the average adult should consume approximately two cups of vegetables (one cup is the size of the middle portion of two open palms) and two cups of fruits per day (one cup is the size of a clenched fist). In general, try to reduce your rice intake while increasing your vegetable intake. Just be careful with your choice of salad dressing, which could be loaded with fats and calories. Cooking vegetables can reduce their fiber content, and skins are a good source of fiber. Be sure to increase your fiber intake gradually, giving your body time to adjust, and drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids a day.

Limit sweet drinks and desserts.

Drinking too much coffee, sweet juices and sodas can contribute to weight gain. A glass of soft drinks may contain as much as 7 teaspoonfuls of sugar. It’s equivalent to eating half a cup of rice already. Plain water is still your best choice.

Salty isn’t healthy.

Limit high-sodium condiments and foods such as soy sauce, fish sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, flavored seasoning salts, pickles and olives.

Therefore, learn to control your portion size. Choose also healthy foods. Good luck.

Caption: Using the hands to estimate portion size of rice, meat, vegetables and fruits.

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