3 Ways to Manage Portion Sizes Without Counting Calories
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Non-dieting ways to help you decide how much to eat

One of the most frequently asked questions in our nutrition counselling practice and in participants of my online nutrition course The Pursuit of Healthiness is “how do I know if I am eating too much?”

nutrition expert Andrea Holwegner on AM770

Listen to Andrea on QR77 here:

If you are like many of our clients you are likely tired of tracking calories, points or meticulously weighing and measuring food. Like many of our clients that are recovering from an eating disorder or a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, you need a way to help you begin to trust that you are eating the right amount of food for your needs, but in a non-obsessive way.

Moving towards a healthier relationship with food and your weight involves a progression when you are ready to ditch the external numbers and learn to trust your internal cues and become a more intuitive eater. Learning to let go of unnecessary rules about how much you are “allowed to eat” isn’t always easy and can take time, but is indeed possible with the help with an experienced dietitian that specializes in emotional eating and eating disorders.

While software, food tracking apps and recommended serving size charts can make a guess at what your body requires, you are not a robot. How much you need to eat is highly variable and will change based on your personal genetics, family history, age, muscle mass, physical activity level, stress level and sleep patterns. Your overall nutrition pattern over the last day, week and month will vary greatly depending on if you have been underfed, overeating and based on emotional triggers and learned behavior and habits we have developed over time.

Since our appetite, hunger and reasons we choose to eat change constantly, here are 3 helpful hints to begin to explore how much to eat:

#1 Use your eyes

Instead of calorie counting, consider learning to gauge food portions in a different, more intuitive way. No smart phones or calculators, carrying around measuring cups or weighing food on food scales. All you need is your eyes and hands to get started.  

  • Grains or starches  1/4 plate
  • Vegetable and/or fruit  1/2 plate
  • Source of protein  1/4 plate

#2: Use your hands

Use your hands as an extra guide to help you determine how much of each of the 3 components to have at mealtime:

  • Use 1 or 2 cupped hands to help determine the size of your grains/starches at a meal.  how to measure portions by plate or by hand
  • Use 1 or 2 fists to help determine the size of your vegetables at a meal.
  • Use your palm size help determine the size of your protein

#3: Use Your Intuition

You are not a robot and your hunger and fullness will change daily like the weather. If you are full it is OK to leave food on your plate. If you are still hungry give yourself permission to have a little more. Remember it can take time for your brain and your body to connect and determine fullness. Slow down and listen to what your body is saying. When you do, your body doesn’t let you down. No judgement. Honor your hunger.  


Need some help creating systems to make healthy eating and meal planning easier? Join my Online Nutrition Course “The Pursuit of Healthiness” to have more fun, ditch dieting and move towards your personal best weight. Course registration closes soon! Visit www.pursuithealthiness.com for all the details.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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