December 3rd, 2012
Which one of us has not eaten on the run or at restaurants? Those of us who are middle aged or turned senior, would have noticed that over years food portion sizes served in restaurants have become bigger and bigger. The average serving today is probably good enough for at least two people. Given that we have less time at our disposal for physical activities aimed at utilizing energy, the increased portion sizes have naturally resulted in increased waistlines and body weight.
In fact, our increasing waistlines probably mimic the increasing size of the burger. Research indicates that each item in today’s menu packs an average 200 to 500 calories more than it did about 20 years ago. If you order just three items each day and have no proportionate increase in your activity levels, then the portion distortion will add 25 or more pounds in a single year. Imagine your waistline in say just three years. Not yet convinced that food portion sizes have got larger? Take a look at this picture:
A portion is the amount of food that you choose to put onto your plate. The quantity can be anything you like.
A serving is a measured (recommended) amount of food or drink. Your daily recommended quantity may be one or more than one serving of a particular food or drink.
A portion distortion occurs when the total food served to you exceeds the total recommended quantity. For example, a soda typically has 20 ounces of liquid and is consumed as one portion. However, the recommended serving size is just 8 ounces. Similarly, a 3-ounce bag of chips contains 3 serving.
Today, portion distortions have reached such endemic portions that we no longer are able to recognize what a real portion size looks like. For example, how many of us knew that a cup is supposed to be no larger than a baseball? Or that our daily protein intake from meat should be no more than 3 ounces and than 3 ounces is about the size and thickness of a deck of cards (or roughly the size of your checkbook).
Serving sizes have grown on average 46% since 1980 on 65% of edible food items available in a grocery store. Modern marketing techniques and resultant portion distortion makes it cheaper to eat unhealthy quantities of food.
We see, read or hear the word “economy” and “economize” mentioned at least 5 to 6 times a day. It is a word that has been so etched into our subconscious that even when it comes to food, we tend to work out its ‘effective value’.
For example, if a standard sized burger is offered for (say) $5 and we are offered a supersized burger with fries on the side and a soda for $7, most of us would automatically select the second option. It is economy or getting more value for our buck and not health or ideal portion size that governs our decision.
So how do we un-distort portion distortion?
To begin with, we need to familiarize ourselves with our daily calorie requirement and then familiarize ourselves with what a proper portion size looks like. Look closely at the images in this article and also read some more articles on our blog – we have a whole category with portion control tips.
And if you are ready for your transformation and to make portion control easy for you, take one step further - check our portion control dinnerware and nutrition control tools in our store.