Portion Distortion

  • 2 Minutes Read

Portion Distortion

Guest post provided by Martha Henze, MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC; marthahenze@gmail.com

How many inches in diameter was a bagel 20 years ago? How many ounces were in an average soda 20 years ago? A bagel 20 years ago was 3 inches in diameter and had 140 calories. A bagel today is 6 inches in diameter and has 350 calories. More than double the calories!

To learn the answer to the soda question and about French fries and spaghetti and meatballs, try this fun Portion Distortion Quiz: You will be surprised!

When people regard excessive portions as normal amounts then we have portion distortion. As meal sizes have increased so has our waist sizes and our risk for various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes.

How do we prevent portion distortion?

At home:

* Buy smaller plates, bowls and beverage glasses.

One client of mine noted that her new Christmas plates were too big to fit into her 1950's dishwasher. Wow, what a great visual example of portion distortion! Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables and the rest of your plate with other foods, such as lean meat and whole grain foods. Only place the serving dishes with the fruits and vegetables on the table for seconds. Leave the entree in the kitchen so you have to get up for it!

* Track your food using MyNetDiary at http://www.mynetdiary.com/

Often clients I work with, lose weight just by writing down everything they eat and drink. I joke with them saying that I did not know that "writing" was an aerobic activity. Study after study demonstrates that the greater number of days per week that a person tracks his or her food and beverage intake, the greater the weight loss. Keep tracking!

Enjoy nuts but do not "go nuts".

If you enjoy snacking on cashews or peanuts while watching the Colorado Rockies baseball team, enjoy them, but limit your portion size to 1/4 cup of nuts (about 23 almonds). One-fourth of a cup of nuts (1 oz.) has about 200 calories. Thus, if you nibble on 1 cup of nuts this would be about 800 calories. If your daily caloric need was 1600 calories, the nuts would provide 50% of your caloric intake in just one sitting.

At restaurants:

Don't think that restaurants serve you the appropriate amount of food!

* Share entrees.

We are a family of four and generally order three meals. We do not leave the restaurant hungry!

* Pack a "to go" package when you get your meal.

Studies show that the more food is put in front of people, the more people eat!

If you pack it immediately, your lunch will be ready for tomorrow! Better on the budget and better on the waistline.

Beverages - Order water. Add a squeezed lime or lemon.

Cheryl Forbes, registered dietitian for contestants from the Biggest Loser, noted that most contestants BEFORE joining the Ranch were meeting their daily caloric needs through beverages alone (e.g. caloric sodas, juices and fruit punch) Many consumed very little water.

Going back to portion distortion. A soda 20 year ago was 6.5 oz. (that's less than 1 cup) and had 85 calories. A soda today has 16 oz and has 220 calories. To burn these extra 135 calories, you would need to lift weights for about 1 hour.

Step one to preventing portion distortion, is awareness. Remember that the bottom line to healthy eating habits is variety and moderation. Moderation is the key to preventing portion distortion.

Alles Gute,


Dining Out->Portion Size & Calories
May 1, 2012
Katherine Isacks
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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