Key to Portion Control:  A Weight Loss Dilemma

In a world where 21-ounce cans of soda containing 210 calories and 58 grams of sugar is considered medium size, figuring out what a "normal" portion looks like can be tricky. Even healthy foods can be taken out of proportion. How many servings of salad did you really put on your plate? And what do health experts mean when they recommend eating two servings of fish a week? Understanding what constituents a "normal" portion size will help you cut back and take control.

How to Eyeball It
A good way to measure out normal portions is to size your food against commonly used objects. Here is what one serving of the following looks like:

Breads, Cereals, and Grains
1 slice of bread = size of an index card
1 small roll = size of a yo-yo
1 bagel = 5 oz. can of tuna
½ cup of rice or pasta = enough to fill a cupcake liner

Fruits and Vegetables
1 medium orange or apple = size of a tennis ball
¼ cup dried fruit = size of a large egg
1 cup of green salad = size of an adult fist
1 small potato = size of a computer mouse

Proteins (Meats and Nuts)
3 oz. of meat (beef, chicken, fish, pork) = size of a deck of cards
1 oz. of nuts = size of a ping-pong ball
2 tbs. of peanut butter = size of two tea bags

Dairy
1 cup of milk = 8 oz. carton
1 scoop of fat-free frozen yogurt = size of half a baseball
1 oz. of cheese = size of a pair of dice

Fats
1 tsp. of butter or margarine = distance between the tip of your thumb to the first joint on your thumb

Tips on Becoming a Smarter Eater
Losing weight is not only about eating healthier, it's about knowing how much to eat and learning when to resist getting seconds. Think about the following the next time you sit down to a meal or a snack:

Visualize what one serving of each of the foods you are about to eat looks like.

Make it a habit to read food labels.

When dining out, before you start eating, ask for a doggie bag and set aside half the meal for later. This way, you won't be tempted or feel obligated to eat the whole meal.

Avoid Super-Sizing. The price per ounce may be cheaper when you do the math, but it's just not worth it when it comes to successful weight loss.

Avoid the all-you-can-eat buffets. Temptation is everywhere there.

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