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When most of us sit down to eat, the last thing we want to think about is portion control. But for anyone on a diet or just looking to maintain their current figure, that's exactly what we should be doing.
The first step in successful portion control is learning the correct serving size.
Measure accurately. For foods and beverages, use a measuring cup, tablespoon, teaspoon or food scale.
Learn how to estimate serving sizes. "Ballpark" food portion sizes by estimating serving sizes in comparison to known objects, for example: 3 ozs of cooked meat, fish or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards. Other easy measurements include:
Use portion control tableware. Pick out smaller plates, bowls, cups and glassware in your kitchen and measure what they hold. You might find that a bowl you thought held 8 ozs of soup actually holds 16, meaning you've been eating twice what you planned.
Dish out your servings separately. Serve food from the stove onto plates rather than family-style at the table, which encourages seconds.
Make your own single-serving packs. Re-portion bulk quantities of favorite foods such as pasta, rice, and cereal into individual portions in zipper bags so that when you're in the mood for some food you'll instantly see the number of portions you're preparing.
Add the milk before the coffee. When possible, put your (fat-free) milk into the cup before adding the hot beverage to better gauge the amount used.
Measure oil carefully. This is especially important because oil (even the healthful kinds) have so many calories; don't pour it directly into your cooking pan or over food.
Control portions when eating out. Eat half or share the meal with a friend. If eating a salad, ask for dressing on the side. Dip your fork into the dressing and then into the salad.
Add vegetables. Eat a cup of low-calorie vegetable soup prior to eating a meal or add vegetables to casseroles and sandwiches to add volume without a lot of calories.
Listen to your hunger cues. Eat when hungry and stop when satisfied or comfortably full. Try to gauge when you are 80% full and stop there.