Thursday, May 17, 2012


When I was a little girl I was lucky enough to live within walking distance of my grandparents, and I would visit them almost daily. I especially loved the barbeques in the summer. Grandpa would always buy watermelon and Grandma would make a pie. There were times when I would fill up my plate with the goodies but wouldn’t be able to eat it all and my Grandpa would ask, “Were your eyes bigger than your belly”? This term meant, you thought you could eat more than your belly could hold. As kids, we would seldom overeat. We automatically stopped when we felt full, unless it was dessert – but then our parents would stop us from eating too much!

As we get older though, it seems we listen less to our belly and more to our cravings. But could it be because our judgment becomes skewed on what is a “normal” size portion?

Over the years, portion sizes have grown 2-3 times what they were in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right amount for our bodies. Every day we see ads for “supersize” fries, jumbo smoothies, and Grande latte’s. Restaurants serve up double portions of food on large plates. These images get burned into our memories and become “normal” portion sizes. This leads to overeating which leads to weight gain.

Dinner plates used to be 8”-10” in diameter. Now they average 12”-14”, making it very easy to over serve yourself. Glasses have gone from 4oz-8oz. to 16-20oz, again making it too easy to double your portion. But these have become the “normal” size products to use. No wonder obesity is becoming an epidemic.

 While it is true that pre-packaged processed foods are filled with chemicals, preservatives and sugars, adding to our weight problem, they also make it easy to overeat. Honestly, how often do you read the serving size on a box of crackers and then actually count out the crackers? More often than not, you will reach in the box and pull out a handful at a time – several times a day. And the pre-portioned size snacks are no better. Research shows that people actually eat more when using these products.

So what’s a person to do? Retrain your brain – and your stomach.

1. Buy smaller plates and glasses – less food will be on the plate, but the plate will still look full.
2. Invest in an inexpensive kitchen scale. I have no luck using such tricks as a golf ball size of cheese, or a tennis ball size of rice. I will always under-estimate or over-estimate. I measure out all portions until it becomes automatic to me.
3. If you do choose to buy snacks, even if it’s healthy such as nuts, count out the portion and put them in individual snack bags and it ONLY ONE SNACK BAG.
4. Use desserts and sweets as treats, which is what they are. If you eat a dessert every night, they quit being treats and start becoming habits. Have them just 2 or 3 times a week, or better yet, just on the weekend.
5. Use a contrasting plate color when serving food. Research has shown that you will eat less of a food if it is plated on a contrasting color – such as pasta with red sauce on a white plate instead of a red plate.

What are some tips and tricks that you use to keep your portion sizes in check?


hiker mom said...

Great post! This is so true. Sometimes it is so hard to leave food on our plates because we don't want to be wasteful. I especially feel this way at restaurants.

Kari said...

I love these sorts of reminders and posts - so very true and so startling when you compare portions now to even 10 years ago, never mind 20 or 30! It's quite ridiculous, and so easy to forget what 'normal' used to be.