Watch out for Portion Distortion!
Food portion sizes are on the rise. Large portions not only have more calories, but studies show that when people are served more food, they eat more. Most of the foods we see in larger sizes are high-calorie foods that provide few nutrients such as French fries, soda pop, chips, cookies and muffins.
While we see portion sizes growing in restaurants and stores we are also serving ourselves larger portions at home. There are a few reasons for this:
We are using larger plates, dishes and glasses, so one “plateful” hold more calories.
We are often eating in from of the TV or computer. Studies show this results in us eating more, because we are not paying attention to how much we’ve eaten, or if we are getting full. (Studies have also shown we are getting less enjoyment of the taste of our food.)
We often serve meals “family style,” which means brining all the food out to the table (or coffee table.) This results in more people taken seconds instead of filling your plate in the kitchen and walking away. The extra food is better used as seconds, which are better used as leftovers for a later meal.
How can you fight these giant portions? Here are some things you can try:
Use measuring cups to serve your meals, so you are aware of how much you are REALLY taking.
Serve yourself only what you will eat, and don't take a second serving.
Pre-portion snacks or pack lunches the night before, so you are not tempted to take extra when you may be at your weakest.
Don't eat out of the bag or container.
Don't eat in from of the television or computer.
Large portion sizes have contributed to many people eating more calories than they need and ultimately gaining weight. Data from 2011 estimates that 65% of adults in Wisconsin are overweight or obese. Since 1980, obesity among children has doubled. What can we do to help get ourselves to a healthy weight? The healthiest, safest, most long-lasting way to keep or work towards a healthy weight is by using energy blalance.
Energy is another word for calories. What you eat and drink is ENERGY IN. What you burn through physical activity and everyday life is ENERGY OUT. Energy balance is the balance between ENERGY IN and ENERGY OUT. Balance energy to maintain a healthy weight.
More IN than OUT over time = weight gain
More OUT than IN over time = weight loss
Eating just 150 calories more a day than you burn can lead to an extra 5 pounds over 6 months. That’s a gain of 10 pounds a year!
If you don’t want weight gain to happen, or you want to lose weight, you can either reduce your ENERGY IN or increase your ENERGY OUT. Doing both is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Sources: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services,