Ah, the good life. Dining out, shopping
dining out, shopping for clothes, dining out, shop. . .
wait a minute. Is there a pattern here?
Americans are eating out more and more, and leading
researchers say that's a big part of why so many of
us are overweight. The biggest part of that big
part? Big portions!
When we eat out, we are usually getting a portion of
food that is double, or even three or four times the
size of what is considered a normal serving.
Many restaurant meals are upwards of 1,000 calories
for a single meal! Remember what a big deal the
Quarter Pounder was when it was introduced in the
1970s? Nowadays, it's not surprising to see one-
third and one-half pound burgers on a menu.
And it's not just at restaurants. Grocery stores,
bakeries, delis, everywhere, the portions are simply
ballooning. Remember when a muffin was roughly the
size of a cupcake? Not any more!
Yet researchers find, we're still eating the whole
thing, whatever the thing, without comprehending
the alarming increase in our daily caloric intake.
It's not that restaurants and food producers are
deliberately trying to make us fat. They're just
trying to protect their market share of your food
dollars, and to do that, they look for ways to improve
value and appeal for their consumers.
Actual food ingredients are relatively cheap,
compared to packaging, labor, rent, research,
marketing, lobbying, advertising, and all the other
expenses of bringing you that meal or snack. So
from their end, it's just good business to give you
more and make you feel like you're getting a deal.
Everyone loves a bargain, and good value keeps us
The regular old 7-11 soda grew into a Gulp, and then
a Big Gulp and then a Super Gulp. The basic
American hamburger and fries meal got supersized,
But no matter how big they get, we keep eating
whatever is served. With that much more food
passing as a single meal, they might as well call it
Many of us were raised hearing the admonition
to 'clean that plate,' and we feel obligated to finish
whatever is served, whether or not Mom is still
So take a plate full of way more food than we need,
together with the training to eat more than we might
even want, and you have a pretty reliable recipe for
over-eating, and hence, weight gain.
But perhaps the most important consequence of all
the commercial supersizing is what it's done to our
perception of appropriate portions.
As we get used to seeing those big portions when we
eat out, we tend to recreate them in our home
kitchens, so that even when we do our own cooking,
we again serve ourselves more than we need, or
even should have.
Researchers found that of all the places where we're
getting bigger portions, fast food servings have
grown the most, followed by those we dish up at
home. Our sense of appropriate servings has simply
So what to do? When you're at home, fill the plates
from the stove and bring them to the table.
Repeated studies have shown that if the food is
within arm's reach, we'll eat it. But if we've got to
go and get it, we are less likely to have more.
And before you do go for seconds, just sit a few
moments and let your body catch up. It takes about
30 minutes for the hormones that signal satiety to
get the message from the stomach to the brain.
When eating out, just imagine that every meal you
order has a notation in the menu that says 'serves
two.' Decide how much you want to eat at the
beginning of the meal, and before you even start,
put the rest in that take-home container.
And when you've had enough, stop. Being satisfied
doesn't mean feeling stuffed, and enjoying a good
meal shouldn't leave you uncomfortable afterwards.
That mountain of mashed potatoes isn't Mr. Everest,
and you don't have to eat it just ?because it's
And finally, whether you're driving through, or sitting
inside, or even ordering delivery, always resist the
temptation to supersize.
It may seem like a great bargain at the moment, but
in the long run, you end up paying for the extra
calories, not with those extra few cents, but with
Through Thick and Thin
Remind yourself that you don't have to eat
everything you're served, even if your mother is with
you. After being trained all our lives to 'clean that
plate,' this can be a tough one. But go ahead and
ask for that doggie bag, or give yourself permission
to just leave some of your dinner on the plate.