Many of you have probably heard about the handful diet. It is a very simple way of putting the principles of healthy nutrition into practice. It does not require using calorie tables kitchen scales and constantly wondering if the meals we compose are really well-balanced. The handful diet is especially recommended for those who eat too much and therefore are struggling with health problems.
The handful diet was created by a Pole, dr Anna Lewit. Its main principle consist in replacing all the kitchen measures you have used so far, with your own hands. As the diet name suggests, your handful is the measure of the amount of ingredients to create your meal. Dr Anna Lewit argues that this way of eating is physiologically suited to our body, and also compatible with our needs for energy. Physiology shaped us in such a way that women are generally shorter than men, they have also smaller hands, thus the servings eaten by them should also be smaller. On the other hand, naturally bigger and taller men have also an increased energy demand, hence the portions they should consume, are more abundant.
How to prepare a perfect meal then? It is not important whether it is breakfast, dinner or supper, each plate is governed by the same rules. Each meal has to include a handful of proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is important to measure the amount of each product with just one handful. Dr Anna Lewit notes, however, that the proper selection of food plays an important role in this diet. High quality of the food we eat lets us preserve the health and lose excess weight reasonably.
So let’s look closer to each of the three handfuls, which put on their plates.
- Complex carbohydrates – groats are the main source of it in the handful diet. It is recommended to consume thick groats, which include: pearl barley, buckwheat and millet. Next, we have pasta – it should be made with semolina or whole–wheat flour and cooked “al dente”. This allows pasta to retain maximum flavour and nutritional value. The handful diet also suggests eating rice. There are some limitations here too: it’s best to use wild and parboiled rice, as they have a lower glycaemic index than white and brown rice. It is important to remember that these products absorb a lot of water while cooking. Therefore, we should determine the portion before cooking. Other products allowed in the handful diet include oatmeal, millet and rye as well as bread baked with coarse-ground and full grain flour.
- Protein – it’s important that we choose high quality food products. The sources of high amounts of protein in the handful diet include eggs, lean and semi-skimmed cheese, dairy products, lean meats, fish and seafood. In the case of meat, a portion is measured after processing (as meat and fish exposed to high temperatures lose large amounts of liquids). Once in a while meat should be replaced with leguminous vegetables – they aren’t high in protein, but they introduce good quality variety to your diet.
- Fruits and vegetables – 400 grams per day is the minimum serving of vegetables, which will guarantee the proper functioning of your body and diversify your diet with essential minerals and nutrients. Vegetables can be eaten in greater amounts than a handful per meal, but only if we talk about low-calorie vegetables, which contain large amounts of water. Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of dietary fibre.
When using the handful diet, we should remember that only the high quality of healthy foods can help us lose weight and improve our eating habits. When choosing food products it’s good to use the glycaemic index (GI) tables. We should exclude all high GI foods. Why? To avoid sudden spikes in blood sugar, which is the main cause of weight problems. Dr Anna Lewit also informs about the need to exercise and drink plenty of water per day, and the complete prohibition of junk food.
Although the handful diet may seem a little restrictive, it is well balanced. Each meal has the right amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates. It reduces the portions we eat normally – but it is good to consult a nutritionist or doctor before starting it. They will certainly advise you on how to start the handful diet and recommend appropriate supplementation.