09/06/2012 08:07 am ET Updated Nov 06, 2012

Rightsize Your Plate and Your Waist: 11 Portion Control Tips That Work

Practicing portion control is one of the most difficult tasks facing anyone who eats out or even eats in these days. Look around you and everything is super-sized. And not just fast food. Bagels, muffins, steaks, even frozen dinners have grown in size. And of course we know about the big sodas. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has proposed restricting the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in many eateries, and the Board of Health is set to vote on the proposal in just over a week. Stay tuned.

I tracked the history of food portions increasing since the 20th century and found that portions are much, much bigger than they were in the past -- 2-5 times bigger, to be exact. And so are people! No surprise. As I wrote in The Portion Teller Plan and in numerous articles, large portions contribute to weight gain because large portions contain more calories than small portions. Simple as it sounds, so many clients that I counsel don't seem to apply logic to the equation. We know that if a 64-ounce Mega Jug of soda is eight times bigger than a standard 100- calorie eight-ounce soda, it should contain eight times the calories. Yes, it contains 800 calories. Simple math? Yes. But... if WE drink it, we think, how can a soda possibly have so many calories?

Our plates have increased. So have our mugs, glasses, and wine goblets. Our cabinets and dishwashers are now larger to accommodate our satellite-sized dishes. And car seats for our kids, who are now pudgier than ever, have also increased. And even caskets have become super-sized!

Many of us don't understand what a healthy portion size is, and for good reason. A pasta portion in a restaurant is easily three cups, and many steaks are at least a pound. That is much too much food. The problem is that we've gotten used to these jumbo portion sizes and we think that a "portion" is whatever is put in front of us. Getting used to normal-sized portions is not an easy task.

Here are some tips:

Enjoy! Bon Appetit.

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