Well, Isn’t That Handy?! An App-Free Guide For Tracking Food

Okay, let’s talk about tracking food.

For a lot of people, tracking food can be a challenging habit to create. And, despite it being an excellent and precise tool for following a nutrition plan, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from the apps. But just because we aren’t using a fancy app doesn’t mean we need to give up on tracking our macros. In fact, one of the easiest ways to track your macros is with something you already have: your hand!  

Tracking Food by Hand

It’s true; the appropriate serving sizes for your macros for each meal can be measured by looking at your hand. And the best thing is, your hands come with you everywhere–how handy!

All jokes aside, the fact that these measuring tools come with you everywhere is a huge plus. This way, when you’re out to eat or not able to weigh your food with a scale, you’re still able to get a good idea of what you’re consuming. Another perk about using your hands for tracking food is that they are a consistent size and are scaled to the individual. Bigger people with larger macro needs will have bigger hands for larger portion sizes and vice versa. The main thing is, tracking food this way is effective and simple.


So let’s get started tracking food by hand!


Let’s focus on protein first.

One serving of protein should be about the size of your palm. This will be about 20-30 grams, or four ounces, of protein. This could be chicken, eggs, greek yogurt, or any protein. The goal is to have one or two of these “palm-sized” portions per meal.


Next, let’s tackle our vegetables.

While veggies aren’t a “macro” of their own (they fall into the carb category), they are an important part of every meal. They contain important micronutrients and fiber necessary to maintaining a balanced diet. At each of your meals, you’ll want to aim for your serving of non-starchy vegetables to be the size of one balled fist. This could be a side salad or some sauteed broccoli; the important thing here is to measure this in the form they will be eaten. Some veggies shrink when they are cooked – we’re looking at you, spinach– so you want to make sure you’re getting an accurate measurement of what you’re eating.


That brings us to our starchy vegetables and carbohydrates!

Using this hand measuring system, one serving of carbs will fill a cupped hand. So, hold your hand out like you are going to cup water and imagine that it’s full of rice, pasta, mashed potatoes, or whatever your carb is for that meal. Again, we are measuring these things in the form in which they will be eaten- if you measure dried rice in a cupped hand, you’ll find yourself consuming more servings of carbs than you might be aiming for. One cupped hand is usually about 20-30 grams of carbs. 

Finally, we get to our fats.

A good rule of thumb for measuring fats is “the rule of thumb!”  No, seriously, one serving of fats is about the size of your thumb! This is equal to about one tablespoon of cooking oil or 7-12 grams of fat-dense food. Depending on the meal, you’ll want one to two servings. This can be the trickiest because it’s easy to measure with your heart when it comes to olive oil and even harder to realize how much you’re consuming when you’re dunking bread in it at the Italian restaurant. Just remember, any adjustment is better than none. So, give the rule of thumb a try!

Okay, but what about lesser nutritious foods?

This system even works with more processed foods like chips or cookies. Let’s say you’re eating a chocolate chip cookie. Look at the size of the cookie and take a look at your cupped hand; how many servings is it? Some cookies might be about one. Others could be as large as three!

Same with chips. Picture a small handful of salt and vinegar chips. You could count that as about one thumb full (one serving) of fat, OR you could measure it as one cupped hand (one serving) of carbs. You get to decide if you treat it as a carb or fat, depending on the food! 

Next time you need a break from counting your calories or when you’re on vacation and avoiding your phone, try tracking food consumption “by hand.” You might be surprised by how easy it is to make well-balanced choices with this method in mind! And who knows, maybe you’ll find that keeping track of what you eat isn’t so hard after all.


xox DWL Team 

PS. Do you want to claim everything that’s already yours– fitness, nutrition, and mindset? Connect with our team of experts and join The Embodied Artist Academy, our personalized coaching program for performers. 

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