I’d like to say I’m the victim here. Or that my eyes are bigger than my stomach. Fact is, my stomach is pretty big. It’s so big that I’m almost certain that I’m morbidly obese.
Whew, that was hard to tell you.
I remember when McDonald’s started the whole small, medium or large upsizing of the combo meals. It gave you a sense of getting your money’s worth because you were getting so much food.
But, as more restaurants followed suit, larger food portions became the new normal. We started demanding more food for our money. We required more because we lost sight of what a normal amount of food on a dinner plate looked like.
It’s difficult to visualize what 4 oz looks like
There’s also this need to not waste food, so we eat everything we get. Sharing a meal rarely enters our minds. Our jumbo-sized meals are then eaten in one setting. Discipline goes right out the window.
Here’s where portion meets distortion
Everything you buy at the grocery store has labels to tell us the approximate serving size and what the nutritional values are. I never read those. I figured why bother, I’m gonna eat what I want.
And Boy did I…
Let’s talk about the difference between a portion and a serving. Portion sizes and serving sizes are not always the same. Here’s why. A can of corn has about 4 servings in it. Eating half a can’s worth means your portion contained 2 servings.
What screws us up is the fact that we aren’t taught what a normal, healthy-size serving looks like. The portion size is what we choose to eat. That’s our eyes, nose and taste buds saying more, more, more!
Not just our senses play a part in over eating our portions but our hormones can also send us in the wrong direction. Comfort food is called that for a reason, it soothes your mood and comforts us in emotional times.
I’ve found some eye-opening comparisons from HealthyEating.Org They even have a chart and graph with pictures of what a normal portion of some foods should look like.
*Examples of 1 serving and how we might use portion distortion
A single slice of bread
Really? Who eats just one slice of bread? A sandwich uses two slices so this seems unfair right away. But look at the nutritional label, it’s right there so it’s not a mistake.
2. Half a cup of cooked rice
I almost always load up my plate with at least a whole cup or more. That’s what you’ll get at Chipotle or Genghis Grill.
3. One small apple
I’m a total apple lover. The red delicious are my favorite. Instead of a dessert or sweets, I’ll eat an apple or two. Dang, now I’m overeating on apples.
4. Two-ounces of cheese
Unless you’re lactose intolerant, cheese is a huge part of American diets. But did you know that a two-ounces cube of cheese is only about the size of a domino?
5. One tablespoon of peanut butter
I don’t know about you, but I can’t get just one tbsp of peanut butter to spread very far on a piece of bread. Whoops, there goes two or three tbsp on my bread.
*Visual Examples of Measurement
Using one hand, you can compare the portion of food you are wanting to eat to the correct portion size you should have. A person’s fist is about a cup. A thumb is close to a tablespoon. And a half a cup is just a handful.
Next time you are wondering if you’ve put a normal size portion on your plate, give it a visual comparison to your hand or fist. This doesn’t sound very scientific but neither is putting giant spoonfuls of mashed potatoes on your plate.
I definitely suffer from portion distortion, but I’m going to make some big changes to my big food portions. My method of figuring correct food portions will be to use measuring cups and measuring spoons.
I’ll also start using a smaller plate with the hopes of tricking myself into thinking I’ve got a whole plate of food in front of me because I will. Following these tips will help me learn the true sizes of what a healthy, normal portion of food should be.