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Eat "Around the Clock" for Portion Control

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Whether you're at a holiday gathering, or out enjoying a restaurant's buffet, keeping portions under control is a challenge. With a little planning, however, it can be as easy as telling time. 

Choose the smallest plate size available. This will automatically make your portions smaller while making it look like you're getting a lot.

Look at the plate as though it had a clock face on it. 
  • From the noon to 6 o'clock position, fill it as high as you want with fruits and vegetables: raw veggies from a veggie plate, carrot coins, peas, or fruit salad.
  • Fill the 6 to 8 o'clock position with a high-fiber, low-fat grain option such as a whole wheat dinner roll, pita bread, or pretzels.
  • For the next couple of "hours," you have two choices. You can either choose a lean protein such as turkey or chicken for the whole 8 to 10 o'clock slot, or you can split it up between a dip (from 8 to 9) and nuts (from 9 to 10).
  • The 10 to midnight slot is reserved for one sweet treat. Remember, the holiday season is long, and chances are you'll get to eat sweets again soon, so don't feel pressured to eat a lot at any one occasion. 
Now you are ready to eat "around the clock"! Start at "noon" with the high-fiber fruits and veggies you selected. Work clockwise and take time to enjoy each section. Once you get to "midnight," your one sweet treat is more likely to stay that - just one!

To learn more about portion control, visit the Healthy and Fit on the Go section of the Health and Nutrition website and look for "Portion Power".

This Tip of the Month has been adapted from Connie Burns' (2009, January 7), Tip of the Week: Eating Around the Clock (University of Minnesota Extension). It is used by permission.

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