“PORTION DISTORTION” by Beth Eberhardt

 Right now, two thirds of Americans are over- weight or obese. According to most doctors, if this trend continues, 75% of Americans will fall into this category by 2020. Those statistics should make every one of us pause if nothing else. The question that we face is, why this is happening to us as Americans and what can we do to turn this trend around. There are many who would propose that we, the American public, can’t keep the fork out of our mouths. I would say that is harsh! Our society has contributed in assisting Americans in over-eating. According to the Center for Disease Control, a typical fast-food burger weighed just 3.9 ounces in the 1950s. Now, that same burger weighs 12 ounces. That is 3 times larger than the burger in the 1950’s. An average order of fries has grown from 2.4 ounces to 6.7 ounces and soft drinks are even worse. Today, people drink 42-ounce sodas. The drinks are astronomically larger than the 7-ounce thirst-quenchers people got at fast-food restaurants in the ’50s. Who began this “bigger” is better idea anyway? Some people would argue that consumers wanted more for their money. Others say it was a great advertising ploy to get consumers to come running to the door of those who offered it! Either way, fault finding is not really helpful; we are the ones that now must solve the weight issue we have as a society. So let’s talk about portion control. Is it the only factor in weight gain? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Is it a contributing factor? Yes. Is it something that people should be aware of? Yes, because quite frankly, we have what is termed as “PORTION DISTORTION” in this country. We as Americans, don’t even know what a “normal” portion is anymore and a portion is really not the right word to use. Serving size is the correct term because serving size is a measurable amount. Portion size is not. But who wants to go around measuring their food? NOBODY! Here lies another dilemma! There was a study done at Penn State University's College of Health and Human Development on portions of food. They found that the bigger the plate of food, the more people ate. It didn’t matter if you were a man or a woman, on a diet or not, heavy or slender, everyone ate more. And here is the concerning part…None of them felt fuller eating a larger portion than they did after eating a smaller portion. They didn’t even notice that the portions were increasing in size. Beyond that, these were people who were not distracted in any way, so all they had to concentrate on was the food in front of them. So what can we do about this? Well, there are a few things you can think about when you are going to sit down to eat whether at home or in a restaurant.

  • When dining out, realize that the portions are large. Box up half the food before you start eating and then take the rest home for the next day.
  • Do not skip meals, it only makes you ravenous at the next meal and then you eat much more.
  • If you are hungry between meals, snack on fruits or vegetables so you eat less at your meal.
  • At home, serve food on individual plates and put the rest of the food in the refrigerator. Remember, the smaller the plate, the fuller it looks with food on it. The bigger the plate, the more food you are likely to consume.
  • Less food is consumed when people are not watching TV, on their phones, tablets, computers, or other devices.
  • Dim the lights…Believe it or not; people tend to consume more food in brighter light. 
Try at least one or more of these suggestions and see if they make a difference for you!