Portion Distortion: Be Aware!

Just how big should a brownie, bagel, or sandwich be?  Over the past 25 years, portions sizes have gotten bigger and so have we!  Restaurant meals are so large and are usually enough for two people (supersize me?).  Even items off the kids menu are sometimes more than an adult could/should eat.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, “Market place food portions now exceed federal standards.  Portion size increases began in the 1970’s, increased significantly again in the 1980’s and have continued to coincide with increasing body weights.”

A large serving of food pushes you to eat more and allows you to underestimate how much you’re eating.  This adds up.  One hundred extra calories per day equals ten extra pounds a year!  This can easily happen due to the increase in portion sizes offered by restaurants and prepared foods from the grocery store.

Some examples of increases in portion sizes/calories in common foods 25 years ago vs. today:

Bagel:  3-in diameter 140 calories vs. 6-in diameter 350 calories

Cheeseburger:  330 calories vs. 530 calories

Spaghetti & meatballs:  1 cup 500 calories vs. 2 cups 1,025 calories

Soda:  6.5 oz. 85 calories vs. 20 oz. 300 calories

French fries:  2.4 oz. 210 calories vs. 6.9 oz. 610 calories

As you can see, it is too easy to overeat and not even realize it due to today’s portion sizes.  I thought this quote was hilarious……..

Here are some examples of serving sizes offered by popular restaurant chains and what a typical serving size should be:

Panera Bread Sierra Turkey Sandwich is 11 oz and a serving should be 5 oz.

Olive Garden Lasagna Classico is 2 cups and a serving should be 1 cup.

McDonald’s Small Chocolate Shake is 12 fl. oz and a serving should be 8 fl. oz.

IHOP Harvest Grain ‘N Nut Pancakes is 9 oz and a serving should be 4 oz.

California Pizza Kitchen Margherita Crispy Thin Crust Pizza is 13 oz and a serving should be 5 oz.

As you can see, you can be eating larger portions only because the restaurant sells a serving in super sizes!  My husband always reminds me that most people don’t know or understand what a serving size should be or how to read a nutrition label to determine the serving size.

In the past, I thought it was crazy to blame fast food restaurants or food companies for the rise in obesity.  Now I can understand, especially for individuals who eat out all the time.  Also, the increases in portion sizes has followed the increase in obesity rates.

However, I do believe we need to take responsibility for our actions and not blame the food industry.  We need to be aware of what we’re eating and what a proper portion size is.  An easy way to figure out proper portion sizes is to visually compare food portions with common household items.  Eyeballing these amounts is much easier than breaking out the food scale or measuring cups!

1 cup = a baseball or clenched fist

1/2 cup = half a baseball or 2 golf balls

1 teaspoon = tip of thumb to first joint

1 tablespoon = 3 thumb tips

1.5 oz. of cheese =  4 stacked dice

3 oz. of cooked meat or poultry = deck of cards or roughly the palm of your hand

3 oz. of grilled/baked fish = checkbook

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Awareness is key.  Next time you eat out, be aware of your portion sizes.  Don’t convince yourself that it’s an appropriate, healthy serving.  Downsize your portions to help put an end to portion distortion!  It will bring valuable benefits for your life and health!!

Have you noticed the growing portion sizes?

Do you think restaurants play a role in the rising obesity rates?

4 Responses to Portion Distortion: Be Aware!

  1. So true and I agree awareness is the key. People need to take more personal responsibility in life

  2. Alyse says:

    Awareness is key! I love that some restaurants are putting nutrition information on their menus / food – it really helps as a gut check for when you suspect something might be more portions than it is presented as!