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It’s no secret that a healthy diet can have a huge impact on your weight. But equally important is controlling the amount you eat.

Take nuts, for example. They certainly can be a healthy alternative to potato chips, but eating a pound of nuts won’t do much to help your ever-expanding waistline.

If weight loss is your goal, portion control, combined with a healthy diet, is key.

Here are some tips to help:

• Start your meals with a glass of water, or maybe even two: Water (zero calories, zero fat) is a good way to help you fill up before you start to eat. As a result, you will eat less and not feel as hungry.

• Use smaller plates: This is a good way to trick yourself into eating less, even if your plate is only slightly smaller.

• Keep food in kitchen, not on table: Don’t make it so easy to reach for seconds. Once you finish your meal, wait 20 minutes before getting up for another helping. You will often realize that you are full and not go back for more. Keeping those extra bowls at the table will only tempt you.

Take some home: When eating out, right away box half of what you are given. Most times, restaurants serve us far more than we should eat. Use the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Start slow: Drastically reducing the amount you eat may lead to frustration and failure. For example, if you eat too much rice, start by cutting back by just a few heaping tablespoons. Once you get used to that, cut back a little more, until you get to your ideal portion size.

For more information on portion control, checkout this helpful chart.

Cutting portions is not something that has to be difficult or even feel at times like torture. Remember your goals and stay motivated. Success is possible.

Ayesha Qureshi is a certified health and wellness coach and has a background in health behavior and health education.

This article was made possible with support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has sponsored Qcitymetro’s Health Page since 2010.

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Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.