IF losing weight is a struggle, help might be at hand, quite literally. Dieting experts say the proportions of your hand can be used as a guide to how much you should put on your plate.
For example, a portion of meat should be no bigger than the palm of your hand – and a portion of carbs – such as pasta – no bigger than a clenched fist.
When it comes to butter, the maximum amount you should be spreading on a slice of bread is the size of a finger tip.
The experts say that a lack of portion control is one of the main reasons so many of us are overweight.
However, research shows that when bigger portions are served, we eat them, because of the ‘must clear the plate’ mentality.
The information on the hand diet comes from the US website Guard Your Health. It is one of a number of weight loss ideas that focus on the size of the portions we eat.
Last year the British Heart Foundation warned that supermarkets were ‘out of control’ when it comes to portion sizes. Despite the obesity crisis, they are now double what they were in 1993.
An average chicken curry and rice ready meal is now 53 per cent larger than in 1993, and a shepherd’s pie meal is about double the size. As well as fuelling the growing obesity problem, the BHF said that oversized food portions were also contributing to heart disease, currently the UK’s single biggest killer.
Kathleen Zelman, of the health website WebMD, has drawn up another way to manage portion sizes. For example, she says that a pancake should be no bigger than a CD, a bagel should be the size of a can of tuna and a serving of mayonnaise the size of a poker chip.
In their book, The Gastric Mind Band, Martin and Marion Shirran give examples of how portion control can make a huge difference to the waistline. They say: ‘Be aware that a teaspoon of butter (enough for a thin layer on your toast) is 37 calories, but a tablespoon (a generous covering) is three times as much (111 calories). ‘Put dressing on your salad, but learn to weight the vinegar in favour of the oil. A teaspoon of oil may be 45 calories, but a tablespoon is 135. That one extra tablespoon of oil every day amounts to a stone weight gain over a year.’