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“Watch your portions” we hear it all the time, but what does 1/2 a cup of cereal or 1 ounce of chips really look like? We know that portion control is the key to weight loss, but sometimes portion distortion gets the best of us. There are plenty of foods out there whose portion size is less than realistic (umm… 1/2 a cup of ice cream? I think not!), so I’ve compiled a list of some of the most common culprits of portion distortion. If diving into these foods, be sure to really measure your portions instead of estimating.

Cereal: Usually, boxes will list the portion size of cereal as about 3/4 – 1 cup, but for most of us “pour-happy” breakfast munchers, the average bowl has at least double that amount… and we haven’t even talked milk yet (I recommend unsweetened almond milk).

Salad Dressing: Salad dressing can be a dangerous topper to your healthy greens. 2 tablespoons is more than enough for any salad, but more often than not, we pour too fast and end up with a pool of dressing on our leaves.  To avoid excess dressing in your salad bowl, measure out your dressing beforehand and keep it on the side (do this at restaurants too). Next dip your fork into the dressing, then your salad, and finally take that bite.  A little goes a long way.

Ice Cream: Ice cream is already an indulgence to begin with, but if Ben and Jerry think anyone is going to put the spoon down after 1/2 cup of Funky Monkey, they’re not exactly being realistic. To avoid accidentally seeing the bottom of the pint 10 minutes after opening it, measure out your 1/2 cup into a bowl- never eat straight from the pint. And remember a 1/2 cup doesn’t mean ice cream can be flowing over the top and sides!!!  And when getting ice cream out, simply order a small or kiddie cone, instant portion control.

Chips: It’s far too easy to crunch your way through way more chips than you intended. Even a small bag of chips often has more than one serving in it. Not to mention those bags with a serving size of 14 chips?! Who are they kidding? Your best bet when buying a large bag of chips is to divvy it up into smaller bags based on how many servings they say is in the package. If it is a 6oz bag of chips, portion the large bag evenly into 6 Ziploc baggies, and when you crave something crunchy, allow yourself to enjoy one of the plastic baggies and don’t go back for seconds!

Nuts: Yes, nuts are a healthy snack, rich in the good monounsaturated fats your body needs, but it’s a little too easy to go, well nuts with nuts. A serving size of nuts is 1 ounce, a 1/4 cup or more precisely around 20-22 almonds, 16 cashews, or 14 walnut halves, … not exactly a lot. Nuts are expensive if you buy them in smaller quantities, so if you’re stocking up to save some cash, your best bet is to portion them out into baggies by the ounce as soon as you get home.

Pasta: 1/3 of a cup of cooked pasta = about 80 calories so a healthy serving is about 2/3 of a cup cooked and restaurant portions usually serve triple that!  So when you are craving an Italian feast how do you satisfy that urge?  Beef up your pasta with lean protein and veggies to add low calorie bulk to you plate.  Dining out?  Then ask for a 1/2 portion or an appetizer size order and enjoy every last bite (remember NO cream sauces please!).