Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How much is too much?

We've all heard the statistics that tell us that our portion sizes are growing. We find portions growing in grocery stores, where the number of larger sizes has increased 10-fold between 1970 and 2000, in restaurants where the jumbo-sized portions are consistently 250% larger than the regular portion, and even in our own kitchens, where the sizes of plates, bowls and glasses have steadily increased since the 1960s.

As the market for food purchased from restaurants has expanded since the 60s and 70s, the portions have expanded to give the customer a sense of "added value". This trend has expanded into grocery stores and homes, which leads us to the biggest problem for people trying to lose or maintain weight: even those people who consciously try to monitor their intake tend to over eat when served large portions.

Large serving sizes, large packages, and large plates and bowls all inhibit our sense of what an appropriate serving size should be, and in fact, suggest that it is appropriate to eat a larger serving. In a word, these change what amount is "normal" to eat.

So how can we change our perception of normal? Buy snacks in smaller sizes or create single- portion servings from the large packages. Keep large packages out of sight. When dining out, split an entree, order an appetizer instead of an entrée, or have half the dinner packed to go. In your kitchen, replace large tableware with smaller plates, bowls, and glasses and use smaller serving bowls and serving spoons. Keep in mind, the more food that you see, the more food you will eat!

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