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Most people know that they should eat a mix of healthy foods to get enough vitamins and nutrients, but there is a lot of confusion surrounding portion sizes. Not knowing how much to eat can lead to weight gain. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy amounts.

What is the Difference Between a Portion and a Serving?
A portion is the amount that you are served or the amount you eat. It may vary from meal to meal. A serving is a standard amount that can be useful when comparing different foods. For instance, if you look at two packages of crackers, each will tell you how many are in a serving, as well as the number of calories and the amount of fat, sugar and nutrients in a serving. 

What are Healthy Portion Sizes?
The amount of food you should consume in a day will depend on your gender, age and activity level. If you have questions about your dietary needs and ways to adjust your eating habits, consult your doctor or a nutritionist.

Focus on filling your plate with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and non-fat or low-fat dairy products. Limit your consumption of oil, fat and sugar. 

Measuring portion sizes may be helpful, at least until you get used to eating healthy amounts. Then you may be able to tell how much is appropriate by comparing it to your hand or common household objects.

Don’t Focus on Cleaning Your Plate
Many people were taught as children to clean their plate. As plates and portions have gotten larger, obesity has become a serious problem. 

Restaurants tend to serve portions that are much larger than the average person should eat in one meal, and the food often contains a lot of fat, sugar and salt. If you eat out, consider ordering two appetizers instead of an entrée or splitting an entrée with another person. 

Another option is to eat half of your entrée and take the rest home to eat the following day. If you decide to get part of your meal to go, ask the server to wrap a portion before serving you the rest so you don’t overeat.

How to Eat Healthy Portions
You’re likely to eat more if you consume food from a large plate or straight from a container. Using smaller plates can help you get used to eating healthy portion sizes. Put portions of food on plates in the kitchen, rather than placing bowls on the table and having people serve themselves. 

Water can help fill you up so you don’t consume more food than you need. Drink a glass of water about 30 minutes before a meal to avoid overeating.

It takes time for your brain to realize that you’re full. If you eat too fast, you may continue eating after you’re full because your brain hasn’t gotten the signal to stop. Take smaller bites, chew several times and pause to sip water and engage in conversation.