I’m not what you’d call a creative chef, readers. I’m more of a “I hope this tastes okay and what in the world have I done to this kitchen?” kind of person.

So, like many of you, I rely on cookbooks when I need to make more than just a mess in my kitchen. What I didn’t know until recently is that cookbooks just might be messing with our diets.

A recent study on the popular cookbook “The Joy of Cooking,” which has been updated since its first run and through at least 2006, found something troubling. According to Cornell University, recipes in this cookbook staple (https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2009/02/joy-cooking-larger-portions) had a 40-percent increase of calories on average in each serving for nearly every recipe that was reviewed. Across the 18 recipes that appear in all versions of this book, 17 of them had a 63-percent calorie increase per serving because of a higher overall caloric content and bigger portion sizes.

Of course, it’s not fair to make cookbooks the scapegoat in all this. Eating in the US is plagued with problems, and portion size is a significant one. Making and eating your own food at home is still a better option than eating out. Many studies have found that meals from fast-food places and sit-down restaurants tend to have more calories and bigger portions than home-cooked meals.

To help control portion sizes, all you need to do is listen to your body–no scales or special plates needed. Let your lack of hunger tell you when you’ve eaten enough. Eat your food slowly and savor each bite you take. It takes around 20 minutes for your food to be digested enough to send the signal to your brain that you are full. When you eat slowly, you will give your body the time it needs to let you know you’re done eating.

Another thing you need to do is resist the urge to take large portions. It can be awfully tempting to take a lot of something you just made yourself, but when you do that, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

So, whether you hope to lose weight, maintain your current weight or just know what is going into your food, you’re better off eating at home. A cookbook can be a great resource provided you use a healthy one.