Yes, large portions of food do cause overeating - 7 Simple tips to combat portion distortion
- 2 Minutes Read
This study validates what we've known all along: Portion Distortion - large portions of food do cause overeating. Now what can we do about it?
I was at a local ice cream shop the other day. One of their signature products is homemade "sammies" - ice cream sandwiches made with cookies. And not just any cookies. These were two 4-inch cookies, with almost a cup of premium ice cream sandwiched in between. Calorie cost? My guesstimate is at least 800, much of it sugar and fat. Traditional ice cream sandwiches are less than 200. But does anyone eat small simple ice cream sandwiches anymore? Does anyone eat small portions of anything anymore?
Yes, large portions of food leads to overeating. We all suspected that, but evidence was lacking. In a review, however, researchers combined data from 61 studies on calorie intake and portion sizes. Conclusion: large portions of food led to overeating, about 500 calories per day of overeating.
You might think it's all about fast food: super-sized soft drinks and French fries. Certainly those are part of the problem, but not the whole problem. The Big Picture is this: we've been conditioned to expect supersized portions of everything.
Research shows that we eat the food we are served. Result: we've been conditioned to eat right past being hungry or satisfied to being stuffed. If you buy an 800+ calorie ice cream sandwich, are you going to throw half of it away once you feel satisfied?
People sometimes joke about the "See Food " diet: "I see food, I eat it." In fact, that may be the exact reason we have trouble controlling weight. Trying to control portions and your weight in this world of portion distortion is not easy.
There are some simple things you can do in self-defense:
Let's say portion control is all you do as a diet strategy. According to the above study, you could end up eating 500 fewer calories per day on average. That's the calorie deficit most weight loss diets recommend for healthy and sustainable weight loss.
Originally published September 23, 2015
Updated February 10, 2020