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When it comes to diets, you can have your cake and eat it (well half, anyway)

You want a smaller waist, yet you love chips with a passion and you crave chocolate on a daily basis. But you don't love your wobbly belly and you are willing to do a bit of work to get a flat and toned tummy now that the sky is bluer and it will soon be time to shed your winter coat.

The good news is that you can lose the pounds without having to totally deny yourself all of the foods you love.

Instead of not eating your favourite foods, even if they are not good for your healthy diet, you can shed the flab by simply getting into the habit of controlling your portion sizes.

Having a little, or in some cases a lot less of what you really love, isn't as hard as you might think. In fact, many of us overeat without realising it, simply by clearing our plates when in restaurants, or finishing off packets of food bought in shops, without thinking that the amount served might be larger than we want and more than is good for us.

It all comes down to finding ways to cut calories while continuing to eat the foods you enjoy by cutting back on super-sized servings and minimising portions. It is something which even those of us with cravings for sweet foods, or who have busy lives which make dieting hard, can easily introduce into our lives.

Here are easy ways to cut back on portion sizes -- and to cut back on calories -- yet without having to stop eating the foods which you love to enjoy.

1 Go halves

You can slash your calorie intake of your favourite foods by 50pc simply by eating only half of the food on offer. This way, you can still choose the food you like.

For example, if you usually have a shop-bought sandwich at lunchtime, eat half of it and replace your bag of crisps with an apple. The added fibre in the fruit will help you feel more satisfied and for much longer, than crisps would have.

There is no need to throw away the other half of the sandwich though, as this would be a waste of money. Ideally, go halves with a colleague in work who similarly wants to lose weight. Or put the other half in the fridge for the following day.

2 Use a smaller plate

Our eyes are bigger than our bellies at times; we can pile way too much food on our plates and then feel obliged to finish off every last morsel of it. At home, instead of filling a large dinner plate, serve your meal on a smaller plate than you usually would. You may be surprised to discover that you feel full at the end of the smaller dinner and that, because your plate is empty, you are left with an impression of having enjoyed a full and satisfying meal.

In fast-food restaurants, it's important to always resist the 'upsize' offer, even when it is pointed out to you that the amount of food on offer that they are promoting represents better value for your money. You may get more food for less, however, finishing this quantity of food will only undermine your efforts to cinch in your waist and to be healthy. Plus, you'll only feel guilty for having pigged out.

3 Learn what a portion looks like

What is a portion size? Maybe our Irish mammies' dinners, where food is piled on a plate and the attitude is that more is better while children are encouraged to tuck in and enjoy, are to blame. The result is that many of us grow up not knowing what a single portion size looks like.

Measuring accurately is a good way to get acquainted with what food gurus and chefs mean when they advise us that a recipe is designed to feed four people.

Failing to understand portion sizes can contribute to us serving up a meal meant for four people to only two diners.

For foods and beverages, use gadgets such as measuring cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, or kitchen scales, to get to know what a single portion actually measures up to.

Also, you can learn how to estimate serving sizes. Many food portions and serving sizes can be compared to known objects. For example, 3oz (85g) of cooked meat, fish or poultry is the size of a deck of cards.

4 Good food in small packages

If you find your willpower is overwhelmed when you are faced with a super- duper large bag of crisps sitting in your kitchen press, then don't buy large bags. Also, do not buy family-sized packets of biscuits if you feel you will be tempted to finish them all off before the night is over.

If, however, you are shopping on a budget, and feel larger bags offer you the best value for your money, then go ahead and buy the larger bag, then divvy up the contents of your purchase into single servings as soon as you get home. You are much more likely to keep yourself in check than if you were eating from a large bag.

5 Make single-serving packs

This is where eating healthily gets a little nerdy and obsessive. However, this suggestion will help you enjoy your favourite foods without being at risk of becoming tempted to go overboard and pig out. Simply re-portion bulky quantities of your favourite foods such as cake, pasta, and bread, into individual portions in containers or zipper bags. So, when you're in the mood for some food, you'll instantly see the number of portions that you are helping yourself to.