What is Portion Distortion?
Over the past 20 years, portion sizes have increased significantly. Portion distortion has lead to multiple health issues, including the raising obesity epidemic, increasing the prevalence of diabetes, and growing number of people with heart disease. A major factor that contributes to this problem is the fast food industry marketing “super size” foods and a overall increase in portions to allow the public to get “their money’s worth.” Many times what the industry markets as a single meal can really feed two people. Eating large portions at restaurants and fast food establishments has affected the majority of the public’s lifestyle at home. Current portion sizes have exceeded the federal recommendation by as much as 8 times!
One very interesting website that offers two quizzes about portion distortion is MyPlate. The quizzes compare portion sizes from 30 years ago to current portion sizes. Also, they quiz you on how much more exercise it will take to burn off the extra calories.
Estimating Serving Sizes:
Portion size and serving size are too often used interchangeably, when they really have two different meanings. Serving size is the recommended amount of food a person should consume. On the other hand, portion size is amount a person chooses to eat.
The first step to prevention portion distortion is to understand what the correct serving size is.
- 3 oz. of meat = deck of cards
- 1 tsp of butter = 1 dice
- 1 cup of pasta = 1 baseball
- ½ cup of fresh fruit = 1 tennis ball
- ½ cup of fresh veggies = 1 light bulb
- 1 bagel = a hockey puck
Tricks to Prevent Portion Distortion…
- Avoid eating from a package; eat off a plate.
- Eat from a smaller plate. This makes you think that you are eating more than you actually are.
- Move meat from the center of the plate, and pile on veggies.
- At a restaurant, put half of your meal in a to-go bag before eating.
- Put treats (cookies, candy, junk food) in non-clear containers. “Out of sight, out of mind”
- Serve plates directly from the stove, keep leftovers out of sight.
- Use everyday objects to estimate portion sizes. For example: tennis ball, golf ball, dice, deck of cards, etc.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2013). Serving Size vs. Portion Size: Is There a Difference? Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=4294967941&terms=portion%20distortion%20
United States Department of Agriculture. (2013). Portion Distortion. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/portion-distortion.html
WedMD. (2005 February 11). Avoid Portion Distortion. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/avoid-portion-distortion