A Guide to Portions

Tricks to help you keep your portions small and your weight down.
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Did you know that the standard bagel is the equivalent of four or five slices of bread and that the average soft drink is three times the size it was 25 years ago? It's no wonder that so many of us are overweight. We eat portions that are way too big, with way too many calories. To lose weight, you'll need to cut your portions down to size. Here's how:

  • Eat on a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. A fuller plate tricks your brain into thinking that you're eating a lot.
  • Eat lots of high-water, low-calorie foods, like lettuce, raw veggies, broth-based soups, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. You'll feel satiated without breaking the calorie bank, says Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Penn State University and author of The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer Calories.
  • Do a monthly portion check-up. Drag out the scale and measuring cups to make sure your portions haven't crept up in size. Even a small difference like three ounces of turkey instead of two can add up to a few pounds over a year.

Make your own portion guide. Use common, recognizable items, like a tube of lipstick, your cell phone, or your hand-held electronic organizer. Match food portions to these common items. For example, an ounce of cheese is about the size of a tube of lipstick. This will help you eyeball foods and approximate their portion size.--Mindy Hermann, R.D.


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