Portion Perfection or Portion Distortion?
Portion sizes have certainly increased over the past decade. Supersized meals, 1 litre serves of soft drink, 600ml lattes and huge servings at restaurants are not uncommon. Portion control has certainly gotten out of control when eating out but you may not have noticed it is effecting what you eat at home too.
Overtime we have become accustomed to larger meals, larger plates and bowls, larger glasses, larger everything and this has distorted our view of what is ‘normal’ . Many of us tend to serve large portions at home without even realizing it.
Ask yourself this – when do you do stop eating your meal? Is it when you have finished everything on your plate? Or is it when you feel like you have eaten enough? Many people view a clean plate as their ‘cue’ that they’re done eating, rather than tuning in and listening to their body as to when they are ‘full’ or satisfied.
Numerous studies have shown that the size of a meal directly relates to how much we eat. One study asked participants to watch a movie on two separate occasions. On the first occasion participants were given a medium or large box of fresh popcorn. Those with the large popcorn consumed 45% more than those who had the medium popcorn. On the second occasion the movie goers were again given medium or large but this time it was 14 day old stale popcorn. Even with the stale popcorn those with the large container ate 34% more.
The same goes for the size of your dinner plate. When people eat from a large plate compared to a small plate they can consume 45% more food. So I know what you’re thinking ‘A plate won’t fool me, I’ll just put less food on my large plate’. When 209 health conference attendees were given a 1 hour interactive lecture on overeating when using larger dinner plates those who selected a large plate 2 hours later for the buffet lunch served themselves nearly twice as much food. And this was directly after being told about the effects of larger plates!
Nutrition experts can even be fooled by plate size too. One study asked 85 nutrition experts to serve themselves a bowl of icecream. They were given a variety of different bowls and spoon sizes. When using the larger bowls they served 31% more and when using larger spoons they served 14.5% more without even realizing it.
Tall narrow glasses may be better than short wide glasses. One study suggests people can serve up to 77% more into small wide glasses.
Researcher suggest people have a visual cue when determining the appropriate amount of food to consume. Seeing a small plate full rather than a big plate empty can make you think you have eaten enough to satisfy you.
So it may be time to invest in some new dinner wear?
Making a few simple and easy changes can help to reduce portion size which in turn can reduce calorie intake and lead to weight loss.
* Use smaller plates – don’t just serve less food onto large plates actually USE smaller plates
* Use tall, narrow glasses rather than short wide glasses
* Keep portions in control by checking out what an actual portion size should be (you might be surprised)!
* Pour your cereal into your usual bowl and then pour it into a measuring cup to see how it compares to recommended portion sizes. Do the same with your milk – measure 1 cup of milk into a measuring glass than pour it into your cereal to see how much it actually is.
* Pre portion food – don’t grab nuts, biscuits, cereal straight from the packet you are likely to eat more than you realize.
Perfecting portions doesn’t mean you have to measure out every meal you eat. Once you have done it a few times using measuring cups and weighing out serves you will be able to perfect your portions a lot better.