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Portion Distortion
Date:12/7/2008

who selected their own portions only lost eight pounds. The men eating prepackaged portions lost 16 pounds, versus 11 pounds for those who controlled their own portions.

Fernstrom said she thinks prepackaged frozen meals can be a good option, especially when people are trying to re-learn proper portions. But if you don't want to eat a lot of frozen food, she suggests saving the containers from those meals, so you have a guide as to what a serving size should be.

Fernstrom also said that today's dinner plates are simply too big. She recommends eating from salad plates all the time. You can always go back for more food if you're still hungry, she said.

Pappo said using the "plate method" can also be helpful. Half of your plate should be vegetables, one-quarter should be protein, and the remaining quarter set aside for a starchy food.

"People don't like to measure their food, but you need to do it every three or four months to see if you're on target," said Pappo, who periodically measures her food to make sure she's not overeating.

When it comes to eating out, both Pappo and Fernstrom said challenges abound.

"Always assume it's more than one serving," said Fernstrom, who recommends sharing an entree with a friend or ordering an appetizer for dinner.

"People don't want to waste food. If it's on your plate, you'll probably eat it. If you went by your appetite, you'd probably only eat half of your entree," she said. "You have to change your mindset, eat slower, and get some tools to help you with portion control, like smaller plates."

If you need any more motivation to cut back on your portion sizes, Pappo pointed out that if you're a 130-pound woman who eats an extra 500 calories -- something that's easy to do at a restaurant -- you'd need to bicycle for an hour and a half to burn off those extra calories.

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