You probably know that measuring your portions using tools such as  scales, cups and spoons is the most accurate method of ensuring that your portions meet recommended sizes. However, lugging around a set of measuring tools is not always the most convenient thing to do. Besides, imagine pulling out a mini-scale at a restaurant to make sure that serving of stew meets recommendations. …The chef would probably throw you out.

One of the quickest (and easiest) methods  to estimate portions is the “Zimbabwe Hand Jive” (No, I didn’t make that up) which uses your hands to estimate the portions that are right for you. Have bigger hands? Lucky you, you get a larger portion!

So what is a portion?

Closed fist=  ½ cup solid food or 1 cup liquid

1/2 cup starches

Beverages (hot and cold)

Starches (ugali/sadza/fufu/posho/pap/isitshwala etc,  cassava)*


Yam & Potatoes

(*Average portions of starches should not exceed 1 1/2 times the size of the fist)

Two cupped hands= 1 cup


Raw vegetables

Casserole/mixed dishes (Highfields, Egusi, stews etc)


High fiber, low fat grain snacks (popcorn, some whole grain crackers)

One cupped hand= ½ cup

peanutFruit salad

Cooked vegetables




Rice/ Samp

High fat snacks (pudding, ice cream, chin chin, puff puff, mandazi etc)

Palm of hand=  90-120g (3-4 ounces)


Cooked beef

Cooked poultry (chicken, turkey, birds)

Cooked pork

Cooked fish fillet

Cooked wild game and fowl

Canned fish (Sardines, Titus etc)

Thumb – 1 tablespoon

Peanut butter

Salad dressing


Use the tip of you thumb to estimate portion sizes for  high fat spreads and oils such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise and oil.


I’m wondering if you monitor how much food you are eating. If you do, I’d love to know how you estimate your portion sizes. Leave me a message in the comment section below.

Here’s to your health!