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Think Small When it Comes to Portions

People eat more when they are presented with larger portions of food, says the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) . In fact, children as young as two are affected by portion size, and learn early on to mimic their parents' eating habits.

According to the Mayo Clinic , Americans often underestimate how many calories they consume each day by up to 25 percent. The profusion of pre-packaged, processed foods in supermarkets and fast food restaurants has helped skew portion sizes from standard to super-sized.

So, how can an individual relearn healthy portion sizes and reset expectations of how much food they should actually eat at any given meal? Start by familiarizing yourself with appropriate serving sizes. If you don't have a food scale or measuring cups handy, use some familiar visual cues to help you judge portion sizes.

  • One serving of fish (3 ounces) is the size of a deck of cards
  • One serving of pasta or dry cereal (1/2 cup) is the size of a hockey puck
  • One serving of fresh fruit (1/2 cup) is the size of a tennis ball
  • One serving of butter (1 teaspoon) is the size of one die.

Just to make sure you're sizing your portions properly, give yourself a test. Pour a bowl-full of cereal and then transfer the contents to a measuring cup. Does your portion compare with the recommended serving size?

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