The growing portions story.

Growing portions is a big problem of our civilization, as far as the food system is concerned. Serving portions are far bigger today than they were in the past, which often leads to an intake of far more calories than we actually need. It is particularly a problem in the USA. People that have visited McDonald’s in both Europe and USA know that a large Coke in Paris would be a small one in New York (not considering the possibility of refills that doesn’t exist in all countries).

Scientist agree that the increase in portion sizes accounts to an additional 50-150 calories per meal. It is not a big deal if we consume such portions once in a while. However, a daily injection of additional 100 calories can lead to an addition of extra 10 lbs of weight a year. Nowadays, people eating in fast food restaurants can get the daily amount of calories in one meal. Think about it, small french fries have 210 calories, while the large size has 610 calories. A small soft drink contains 150 calories, while the 42-ounce cup has 410 calories. If you add to that a giant hamburger you have to count around 1,000 calories, which would add up to a total of 2,020 calories!!

To give you a broader notion of how the caloric consistency of our food has changed from the 1950‘s to today, I will give you a couple of examples:

French fries – 2.4 ounces à up to 7.1 ounces
Fountain soda – 7 ounces à 12 to 64 ounces
Hamburger patty – 1.6 ounces à up to 8 ounces
Hamburger sandwich – 3.9 ounces à 4.4 to 12.6 ounces
Muffin – 3 ounces à 6.5 ounces
Pasta serving – 1.5 cups à 3 cups
Chocolate bar – 1 ounce à 2.6 to 8 ounces

Some people say that maybe you don’t need to eat the entire portion that was served to you. Even though many people don’t care about wasting food, the majority of the population knows from an early age that “no food should be left on the plate”, since there are children starving in Africa.

A study carried out by Massive Health found that if we are served a portion of 500 g (a little bit more than a pound), on average we will eat only 335 g. On the other hand, if we get a portion of 1,000 g we will eat 434 g. That means that with bigger portions we eat 30% more, and these bigger portions don’t necessarily make us feel any fuller.

In order to win this battle with growing portions all over the world, I wanted to give you 3 simple tips:

  1. When you eat out try to split an entrée with a friend or put the half of the meal in a to-go container.
  2. When you eat at home try to serve meals on your plate rather than serving it on serving dishes placed in the center of the table.
  3. You can also keep healthier foods in places that are easier to access and tempting foods, such as cookies, out of sight, in cupboards.
  4. When you have the possibility to choose a smaller portion, go for it. If you eat it slowly, believe me you won’t feel hungry at all!

References:

1. http://blog.massivehealth.com/post/15352155175/swelling-servings-the-growth-of-american-food-portions

2. http://www.mealsmatter.org/Articles-And-Resources/Healthy-Living-Articles/Portion-Distortion.aspx

 

Posted by Piotr Wielezynski

One thought on “The growing portions story.

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