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Let’s Talk: Portion Distortion

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Let’s Talk: Portion Distortion

I clearly remember the time in my life where people believed it didn’t matter how much a person ate as long as it was labeled low-fat. My coworker would call store-to-store searching for these particular cookies because they tasted good and were low in fat. Once she found them, she would eat the entire box. Why not? They didn’t have much fat in them.  

Nick ringing the dinner bell.

Eventually, the world discovered that low-fat foods did not necessarily mean weight loss. In fact, the increased number of calories from carbohydrates resulted in weight gain. Instead, people needed to eat protein in large quantities. My coworkers suddenly started to bring large quantities of bacon and eating it for breakfast, lunch and between meals. One friend coached her husband on their new protein diet by phone. “You can eat everything else on the salad bar, but not one crouton,” she said.

Are you eating healthy but not losing weight? Portion can be a large contributor.

The common thread running through both of these diet crazes was increased portion sizes. For years, researchers have studied the “supersizing” of America. In high school, our family hosted a foreign-exchange student from France. One of the souvenirs she took home with her was an empty 32-ounce drink cup from a convenience store.

“Why are you taking that with you?” I asked as she packed. A smile spread across her face and her eyes grew wide.

“Because it’s so BIG!” she answered. At the time in France, they had nothing that compared, which was a little sad – not for them, for Americans.

There are many ways to control portion size. One easy option is pre-filling dishes in the kitchen, rather than taking the food to the table to eat “family style.” You won’t be as tempted to take seconds. A balanced diet including vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and fruits that are right-sized is what nutritionists now recommend.

There is plenty of great advice available from experts. I often revisit the website for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. It is a veritable gold mine of information on the evolution of portion sizes. It also features a program called We Can, which offers parents tips for balancing calorie intake with exercise.

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Thanks for reading my blog, A Bushel and A Plate.

As a mom who cares about eating good food and knowing the farmer who grew my food, I want to help other families to nourish your families with good, traceable, sustainable food.

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