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The Power of Portion Control

Our November Healthy Habit is to be more portion aware.  And this is an important one—getting your portions under control is one of the best ways to eat a little less while still enjoying the foods you love. Instead of eliminating favorite foods, portion control allows you to enjoy all foods.

You told us that's the approach you prefer. When we asked our Cooking Light community, 65% said they pay attention to portions rather than avoid certain foods. All things in moderation. Admittedly, this can be tough when we’re eating so many meals away from home and grabbing innocent-looking snacks and bottled drinks that actually contain two or three servings.  

Yet, experts estimate that eating just 100 fewer calories a day may be all it takes to curtail weight gain for 90% of the population. This simple difference of 100 calories a day will cause you to either gain or lose 10 pounds a year. So just a few small changes to your daily routine can add up to something big. 

I think that's important (and encouraging) because it means you don't need a rigid, restrictive diet plan. The best approach is to make a few little tweaks to your daily food routine.  Many of these changes involve your portions, and this may be easier (and less noticeable) than you think.

So think about ways you can cut 100 calories from every meal. Brian Wansink, PhD, of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, calls this the “mindless margin.”  Our body and mind fight restrictive diets that dramatically cut calories, but they don’t notice a 100-calorie difference here and there.

Here are some simple ways you can shave off 100 calories:

- Use nonstick spray in place of butter or margarine when cooking your eggs.

- Skip the flavored syrup in your morning latte.

- Downsize your bagel, or eat only half; some are equivalent to 5 slices of bread.

- Saute your vegetables in a teaspoon of olive oil instead of a tablespoon.

- Order a slice of thin crust pizza instead of thick crust pizza, or remove four pieces of pepperoni from your slice.  

- Choose a 12-ounce can of soda instead of a 20-ounce bottle, or drink one less can of soda a day (or better yet, switch to water).

- Leave three or four bites on your plate each time you eat.

What are your portion challenges?  And do you have any special tricks to help you manage your portions?

Read More: Perfectly Portioned Recipes