Gentle Nutrition

Melissa Martin, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Certified Pilates Instructor |

We have been exposed to a complete information overload with nutrition, unfortunately making it more complicated than it really needs to be. Many people believe for health and weight loss goals that they must severely restrict calories and food groups. This does not need to be the case. Starting from a place of listening to your body and its cues, and adding in what is called gentle nutrition is a simple, flexible, and proven way to eat in a nutritious way.

What is Gentle Nutrition?

Gentle nutrition is a part of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is the process of returning to our own body’s cues, sensations, eating in a way that honors our bodies and health without looking to do so by outside factors, such as dieting. There are ten principles that comprise this method, and we will be exploring these over a series on this topic. Intuitive Eating is the integration of inner attunement to our bodies with our external health values, creating a dynamic integration of authentic health. This article will explore some of these external health values, such as gentle nutrition.

Gentle nutrition gives consideration to nutritious foods and eating in a way to feels good and fuels our bodies, without living and dying by it. It is not restrictive or unnecessarily eliminates certain foods or food groups in the name of health and certainly rejects dieting- which research has found to have a 90%+ failure rate. One easy and foolproof way to do this is to use your hand as a guide.

Head Measuring Portions

Forget counting calories, macros, and dieting because using your hand is all you’re going to need. It’s highly accurate and individually proportionate to your own body and its needs. No need to be rigid or follow it too strictly, but use this as a guide to help you build more balanced meals and stay satiated longer- which prevents binge and overeating. All you need is your own hand. I personally like to use the guide from Precision Nutrition. Today we will be reviewing their method.

How it works:

Your PALM determines your protein portions.

Your FIST determines your veggie portions.

Your CUPPED HAND determines your carbohydrate portions.

Your THUMB determines your fat portions.

Men will use 2 servings of each for all or most meals. Women will use 1.

Note: all servings will be approximately the same size, thickness, and diameter as the part of your hand listed. These recommendations are just a starting point and assume you are eating approximately 4 of these size meals a day.


Protein rich foods such as meat, diary, beans, and eggs, you will use a palm size portion. For men it is recommended to use 2 palm servings, and women it is recommended to use 1 serving for each meal (as seen below):


It is important to eat a variety of types and colors of veggies. Add a fist sized portion to each meal. For men, add 2, women, add 1.


For foods rich in carbohydrates, such as grains, starches, and fruits, use a cupped hand. Men will use 2, women will use 1. Do this with most meals.


Fat-dense foods include healthy vegetable oils (such as olive), butter, nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters and avocados. Men will use the size of 2 thumbs, and women the size of 1 thumb for most meals.

Final Thoughts

Again, please remember that this is just a starting point and you made need to alter the amount to either more or less food depending on your body’s needs, goals, health, and activity levels. Be sure to consult with your doctor or a registered dietician to see how you can further tailor and customize your diet to you and your individual needs. Following the hand measuring model with attunement to your body’s needs and signals (such as hunger, fullness, cravings, and preferences), allows for a very balanced way to enjoy eating without the dieting and restriction. It truly makes it easy and fun!


Melissa Martin

Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

Certified Pilates Instructor