PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Imagine being able to eat everything you want and still lose weight.

Experts say it can be done, but it all comes down to portion size.

Yes, you can have fast food and sweets if you eat the right amount.

That’s the problem in America. Our portion sizes are out of whack.

There’s no hiding it, Americans have a love affair with food.

“Given that two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, they are eating more than they need,” UPMC Body Changers Co-Director Dr. Vicki March said.

Dr. March is an expert on weight loss and nutrition. She said portion sizes in America are out of hand.

“I think portion sizes have increased in general two to three times what they were 30-40 years ago in all areas from salads to main dishes to soups. Everything has doubled and tripled.

Part of the problem is the fact that our plates have gotten bigger over time. No wonder Americans are confused about how much to eat.

Take pasta and meatballs for example.

According to Dr. March, the correct portion size is one cup of pasta and two meatballs at 500 calories.

“You have to say to yourself, this is normal. Say it over and over to yourself. This is normal, this is what I should be eating. Just like you’ve been trained to eat this much, you can pull back and train yourself to eat this much,” Dr. March said.

But all that food, especially at buffets, is so tempting.

KDKA-TV’s Susan Koeppen wanted to see what would happen when we brought in a group of people for an all-you-can eat ice cream buffet.

The recommended portion size for ice cream is four ounces. Koeppen didn’t tell them that fact at first in order to see how much they would eat.

Our participants had five flavors to choose from and a bunch of toppings.

Zack and some others went back more than once to fill up.

In the end, after weighing each bowl, eight out of 12 of our participants scooped up more than what’s considered a proper portion size for ice cream.

“It has been shown that if you have candy and you put it in an opaque container on a shelf in an office, people won’t go and get it. But, if there’s a clear container full of visible candy, people will take one every time they walk by,” Dr. March said.

Koeppen put this notion to the test as well.

In a clear bowl, she put 75 pieces of chocolate. She put the same amount in a white bowl with a lid and placed the bowls next to each other on a table in our newsroom.

Three hours later, the clear bowl only had 14 pieces left, while the bowl with the lid was full.

To keep from overeating and gaining weight, Dr. March said to keep sweets and junk food out of sight.

She also suggests using smaller plates at home to limit your portion size and take your time and eat slowly.

“Try eating more slowly because you have to give your body a chance to recognize that it’s full,” Dr. March said.

It takes 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you are full. If you eat too fast, you will probably think you are still hungry.

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