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Right-sizing Your Meals continued...

Even after you master the art of portion sizing, eating normal-size portions in a supersized world can take some getting used to. Studies have shown that the more food we see, the more we tend to eat. So the key is to keep large portions out of sight -- and out of mind.

Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Use a luncheon size plate for dinner
  • Move the meat off the center of your plate and pile on the vegetables
  • Serve plates directly from the stove (no serving dishes on the table) and leave the leftovers out of sight
  • Take a small portion of a snack food and put the container away. Better yet, buy these foods individually packaged, or divide the bag into portions and store them in small baggies.
  • Try a prepackaged frozen dinner that controls the portions for you
  • Put half your restaurant meal in a doggie bag for lunch the next day

It All Adds Up

An extra bite here and there might not seem like much in the scheme of things. But a little too much salad dressing, one more scoop of potatoes, one more pat of butter -- day after day, these extra little helpings add up to sizeable numbers of calories.

According to the Surgeon General, the average adult gains one to three pounds per year by consuming as little as an extra 100 calories per day.

To put things in perspective, 100 calories is the difference between:

  • 2 tablespoons of light vinaigrette and 2 tablespoons of creamy dressing
  • A small handful of cashews and a large handful
  • A regular cheeseburger and a quarter-pound burger
  • A medium baked potato and a large one
  • Two slices of toast and a medium bagel
  • One cup of pasta versus 1 1/2 cups

Understanding serving sizes is key to a successful weight-management program. Your eating plan recommends specific amounts of foods to help you learn to accept portions that will result in weight loss.

So put your new knowledge to work and help stamp out portion distortion. Right-sizing your portions will bring big benefits for your health and your life.

Originally published Aug. 8, 2003
Medically updated Feb. 11, 2005.

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

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