Why we are getting fatter!!!

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Portions have grown over the past 20-30 years, especially within restaurants, to the point where they have doubled or even tripled in size. These portions have contributed to habits of overeating and the rise in obesity over the past few decades. Larger portions lead to overconsumption, which leads to you taking in more food and calories that your body requires to maintain a healthy weight. People are also eating out a lot more than in the past and consume over 300 calories per more every day than they did 20 years ago.

How portion sizes affected us? 

Since portion sizes have begun to get bigger, it has distorted our view of what a healthy portion size is. Even when consciously trying to control how much we eat, we often still tend to overeat, simply because the lack of knowledge towards what a healthy portion size is.

People also tend to eat more when they eat out, both because the portion sizes are bigger and because they add on appetizers and dessert on top of their already large meal. In fact, if we ate the portions that are offered at restaurants for every meal, we would eat an extra 1,500 calories a day, in comparison to 20 years ago. That’s over 500,000 extra calories a year!

Studies have shown that people who are given larger portions, naturally consume more than they otherwise would. In one particular study, people were fed different portions of mac and cheese on different days. When given the largest portion, they consumed 30% more energy than when fed the smallest portion and despite the difference in portion sizes, the subjects reported similar ratings of hunger and fullness after eating. Eating the smaller portion did not make the subjects feel any more hungry than when they ate the larger portion. In fact, 55% of the subjects didn’t even notice the difference in portion size. This same concept was applied to portion sizes of other foods and snacks with the same results. This would suggest that often, we don’t realize just how much we are eating, but rather are just eating what is put in front of us.

But how did it get this way?

It is reported that upping the portion size began in 1967, at a movie theater in Chicago, where David Wallerstein, the area manager for the local theater, needed a way to boost sales of popcorn and soda. His strategy was to offer people a larger size of popcorn and soda, and he could charge a lot more with minimal costs to the company. The strategy worked, and before long he was picked up by McDonald’s, where, in 1972, they began to offer similar deals. Naturally, consumers saw the extra food as a good deal, as it was cheaper than buying two portions, and bought the larger sizes, making McDonalds’ profits soar. Before long, food chains all over America were offering similar deals to compete and make a profit. This has continued and grown over the decades, and while America is known for its large portion sizes, this has spread to many other modern countries throughout the world.

What can we do to avoid portion distortion?

While larger portions are being pushed on us, there are ways for us to try and control what we eat and implement smart and healthy portion decisions. Here are some tips for avoiding oversized portions:

  • When eating out, order an appetizer instead of an entree. These portions tend to be much smaller and closer to healthier portions.
  • When cooking at home use the nutrition label to figure out what the recommended serving size is for that particular food. Once you have cooked the food, and after proper portion size is served, put away the extra food and save it for later, rather than leaving it out for seconds. Having the food readily available encourages over-consumption.
  • Don’t try and multitask, and eat while you are doing something else. For example, don’t eat while watching tv or movies, or on the computer. When you don’t pay attention to what you are eating, it makes it harder to control how much you are eating, and you over consume.
  • When snacking, don’t eat straight from the box or bag that your food comes in. Measure your food, including stuff like fruits and vegetables, so you can consciously control how much you are eating. When we are given larger portions, we consume more without even realizing it.

You can use these tips to help control your portion sizes and keep yourself from over consuming. We know it’s not easy to navigate food labels or plan out every single meal and portion size. But you don’t have to do it yourself. Another way is to sign up for a Custom Meal Plan and let us take care of the work for you. We’ll help plan your meals, so you are eating healthy, but we also figure out the healthy portion size for the foods that you are eating.

With portions tailored to your body and your fitness goals, you’ll never have to guess how much is too much or too little. Custom meal plans are a great tool in helping reestablish portion control in your diet, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you see results when you’re eating the right amount of food for your body.

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References:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2013, February 13). We Can!® Community News Feature. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/news-events/matte1.htm

American Heart Association. (2015, March 25). Portion Size Versus Serving Size. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/HowtoMakeaHealthyHome/Portion-Size-Versus-Serving-Size_UCM_304051_Article.jsp#.Vxe1vhMrJp8

Ledikwe, J. H., Ello-Martin, J. A., & Rolls, B. J. (2005). Portion sizes and the obesity epidemic. The Journal of nutrition, 135(4), 905-909.

Independent. (2012, June 14). Supersized: Why our portion sizes are ballooning. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/supersized-why-our-portion-sizes-are-ballooning-7852014.html

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