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( — Eating healthy food is not just about what we choose to consume. How much we eat is also a factor that can separate success from failure when it comes to losing weight. As important as portion control is, it is often the last thing we think about when we sit down to eat.

The first step in successful portion control is learning the correct serving size. Serving sizes can usually be found by reading nutritional labels. But the portion is also the amount of food or drink a person chooses to consume. In many cases, the portion eaten is larger than the serving size simply because we don’t know any better.

The good news is that with a little practice, portion control is easy to do and can help people be successful in reaching and then maintaining a proper weight.

Here are 4 simple ways to keep your portions a healthy size:

1. Measure accurately. For foods and beverages, use gadgets like a measuring cup, measuring spoons, portion-control dishware or a food scale. 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 ounces of soup actually holds 16, meaning you’ve been eating twice what you planned.

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2. Learn how to estimate serving sizes. Approximate food portion sizes by estimating serving sizes in comparison to known objects. For example, 3 ounces of cooked meat, fish or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards. Other easy measurements to eyeball include:

• ½ cup is the size of an ice cream scoop

• 1 cup is the size of a tennis ball

• 1 ounce of cheese is the size of a domino

3. Dish out your servings separately. Serve food from the stove onto plates rather than family-style at the table, which encourages taking second helpings.

4. 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 ready to eat you’ll instantly have the proper portion to prepare.

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