Easy Ways to Estimate Portion Sizes
Nutrition Dec 7, 2016
Easy Ways to Estimate Portion Sizes

Portion control is an important component of managing your weight. Whether you want to maintain your current weight or even lose a few pounds, it’s a good idea to know what portion sizes are for different foods since serving sizes typically far exceed average portions.

Most people are aware they should pay attention to what they eat if they’re interested in weight control and healthy eating. But just as important as what you eat is how much you eat. You’ve probably heard the expression “everything in moderation.” There are certain foods it’s still best to avoid or consume in only minimal amounts, like trans fats, but for the most part, the idea of focusing on moderation will help you enjoy the foods you love while sticking to an overall healthy eating plan.

Since we don’t walk around with measuring cups and spoons or a food scale, knowing how to estimate portion sizes in relation to common objects or your hand makes it more likely you’ll pay attention to how much you’re actually putting in your mouth.

Here are some easy ways to estimate an average portion of many popular foods:


  • 1 teaspoon of butter, oil or other fat – the tip of your finger
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter – the tip of your thumb
  • 2 tablespoons of salad dressing – a golf ball


  • ¼ cup of granola or raisins – a large egg
  • ½ cup of rice – a cupcake wrapper
  • 1 cup of soup, salad, cereal or ice cream – a baseball


  • 1 ounce of hard cheese – the length of your thumb or 4 dice
  • 1 ounce of nuts – a small handful
  • 3 ounces of cooked meat (beef, chicken) – a deck of cards, a bar of soap or your palm

Individual items:

  • 1 hamburger patty – a hockey puck
  • 1 medium piece of fruit (apple, peach) – a tennis ball
  • 1 slice of bread – a CD case

These are some easy ways to help you estimate what a portion size looks like. The best way to know exactly how much you’re eating is to use measuring cups and spoons or a food scale. But being able to visually approximate how much is on your plate can help you make better food choices, which is not only good for your waistline, but is good for your health.