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5 mealtime mistakes that are making you gain weight

Stop making these mealtime mistakes!
/ Source: TODAY

Are you avoiding avocado, salad dressings or nuts because you’re worried about excess calories? Are you eating out of a to-go container? These are just a few of the mistakes causing you to pack on the pounds.

Use these tips to clean up habits that may be keeping you from losing weight!

1. Avoiding healthy fats.

Are you worried about the calorie count in “healthy” foods like nuts and avocados? While the average avocado contains a little over 200 calories, this healthy fat is great in moderation. Avocados are associated with improved nutrient intake and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Shoot for a third or half of an avocado a day — just don't go overboard and eat the entire thing!

RELATED: New study names 4 healthy fats to eat more of, 6 to cut for a longer life

Similarly, salad dressings made from oils (like one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a dash of sea salt) shouldn't be avoided — they are another source of healthy fats. Avocado and grape seed oil are great alternatives as well. Making your own salad dressing is the best way to ensure you know exactly what is in it.

Nuts, olives and seeds, while high in calories, are full of nutrients your body needs. Use a quarter cup as your serving size, and integrate these healthy fats into your daily diet by adding them to your yogurt or topping off your salad.

2. Eating out of the to-go container.

Eating out of a to-go salad bowl or carryout box, rather than plating your food, could be causing you to gain weight. It’s really difficult to gauge portion size in these large containers, which can result in you eating more than you intended.

Plating your food will help with portion control, which aids in weight loss. Next time you’re at a salad bar, choose a big container and try to divide it visually like you would a plate — a large portion of vegetables, a serving size of protein (about the size of your fist) and a small amount of healthy grains and fruit.

RELATED: How to plate your food like a pro

3. Confusing hunger with thirst.

When your body is thirsty, you may mistake it for hunger and then overeat. To fix this, drink a glass of water 15-20 minutes before eating to ensure you’re properly hydrated before taking your first bite. Research shows increased hydration leads to weight loss, so drink up!

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4. Sipping too much alcohol.

Speaking of drinking, over-indulging in cocktails during your meal is definitely a mistake. While an occasional glass of wine has great health benefits, there are a few ways you can cut down on calories.

First, opt for wine over beer or a mixed drink (which can have up to 300 calories). After you pour a glass of wine, put the bottle away. That way, you’ll have to make an effort to get up and get a second glass, thus forcing you to be more conscious of your choice. Finally, leave a few sips in the glass if you plan on re-filling. You’ll save 10-30 calories on a 90-calorie glass of wine if you can leave a sip (or three) in your glass. If you have sparkling water at home, you can opt for a wine spritzer — half wine, half sparkling water!

5. Going on Facebook or Instagram while eating.

If you’re on your computer, phone or watching TV while eating your next meal, you’re probably going to overeat. Mindless eating occurs when there’s a disconnect between your mind and body. If you’re not fully present with how your body is feeling while you’re eating, you may miss the signals letting you know that you’ve eaten enough and that you’re full.

RELATED: Robyn Youkilis on why mindful eating works for her

Research has found mindfulness while eating helps reduce the risks of obesity. So at your next meal, focus on the food and how it smells, looks and tastes, and savor each bite to be more mindful and avoid weight gain.

Stephanie Mansour is a weight-loss and lifestyle coach for women. Join her weight-loss challenge here!