Everything in moderation. That’s a great motto to live by. It’s an even better motto to eat by.

Because it’s not always what you eat, it’s how much you eat of it. And whatever ‘it’ is, Americans are eating just too much of it. And it’s not just fast food or restaurant portions that are to blame. Our meal sizes at home have gotten bigger – even dinner plates are larger than they were 20 years ago. It’s not just our plates that have gotten huge. So have our belt sizes.

While we can use our waistline to help see how much we’ve gained, now we can use another part of our body to figure out a correct portion size – our hand. If you stick to that basic unit of measurement, not only will you be healthier, you’ll be on your way to a slimmer and trimmer you.

Here are 5 ways to use your hand to approximate a correct portion sizes.

Fist = 16 ounces – One cup is the perfect serving size of cold cereal or yogurt. When you drink juice, just half of that, or 8 ounces. For fruits and vegetables, just a half cup is the correct portion size. For rice or pasta, it’s just a quarter cup.

Palm = 4 ounces – No more plate-sized steaks. When choosing meat, fish or poultry, a portion the size of your palm is the correct size for an adult. If the serving has substantial bones, you can make the portion a tad bit larger.

Handful = 2 ounces – Having a handful of a snack is literally that – a handful. For pretzels or crackers, you can eat the whole handful. When it comes to nuts or candy, a serving size is actually just half of that.

Thumb = 1 ounce – If you’re a cheese connoisseur, you know how easy it is to eat an entire plate of cheese cubes. But that’s way too much. When perusing that fancy cheese platter, only a thumb-sized piece is the proper portion.

Thumb tip = 1 teaspoon – If it’s creamy like peanut butter or mayonnaise, then it’s also probably very high in fat. Use your thumb when deciding on how much of that you can eat. For peanut butter, you can have 6 teaspoons – or 2 tablespoons. When it comes to mayonnaise, the proper serving size is 3 teaspoons, or 1 tablespoon.

The 10” dinner plate of yesteryear has somehow become our side salad plate and the serving platter of long ago is now our dinner plate. Although, we have become accustomed to eating these large portions, our bodies just don’t need them.

With these simple guidelines, now you can use your head – and your hand – to eat the proper amount at each meal.

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