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Enjoy your food, but eat less.

Let’s face it, Americans love to eat! I live in DuPage County in Illinois and trust me, we are not lacking when it comes to finding a place to eat out. Restaurants range from your typical fast food joint to an upscale sit-down bistro. Typically, when you go out to eat, the last thing you and the chef may be concerned with are portion sizes. Occasionally eating a mega burger, a jumbo fries and super-sized soda will not kill the waistline, but doing so on a daily basis will.

Have no fear, you can eat your favorite foods, but just choose smaller portions. The question is how can you balance your calories and not go overboard. One way is to be aware of common portion sizes. This can be tricky when you eat out since you likely do not carry measuring cups in your back pocket. Use these handy portions to determine portion sizes when you eat out.

• 1 thumb tip= 1 teaspoon
• 3 thumb tips=1 tablespoon peanut butter or hummus
• 1 cupped hand= ½ cup fruit, veggies, or cooked pasta
• 2 cupped hands= 1 cup breakfast cereal or leafy greens
• Palm of hand= 3 oz. meat
• Length + width of thumb= 1 oz. cheese

Here are some additional pointers to help keep your calories in balance:

-If given the option, order the smaller portion. This small change can save you hundreds of calories. For example, a small hamburger contains 260 calories as compared to a large burger that contains 730 calories – a difference of 470 calories!

-If a smaller portion is not available, see if someone will share the larger portion with you. Or if you are at a sit-down restaurant, ask the for a to-go box when your meal arrives so you can pack up and save that extra portion for later.

-Try not to eat out of the bag or in front of the TV. You are less in tune with what and how much you are eating when you do.

-At home, serve your meals on smaller plates, like the salad plate. It will appear that you are eating more and you will be less tempted to add a larger portion of foods.

It is a daily challenge for most people to monitor portions and calories. Hopefully, these suggestions will get you started on a healthy path and allow you to continue to still enjoy your favorite foods, while at the same time keeping your health in check.

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