Implode Exploded Portions

I think we've all heard about how portion sizes in this country have exploded in size and proportion over the past twenty years. Sandwiches stacked higher. Burgers thicker. Steaks heavier. Biggie. Super sized. King size. Even our drinks! At Starbucks, all three sizes of drinks – tall, grande and venti – essentially translate to mean “large, larger and largest.” And it's not just with junk food. Even salads nowadays come with half a cup of dressing on the side – who knows how much is used when it's dressed for you. Bottom line, part of America's weight battle is recognizing and de-internalizing the portions that are now quite literally shoved down our throats.

I tend to avoid fast food and a lot of junk food, but I fall victim too. I noticed this a few weeks ago when going to Met Cafe in Washington DC to get my customary nigiri sushi lunch. Nigiri is pretty good for me. I hate soy sauce as a condiment, so with me we're talking some rice, some fish and some seaweed salad. I try to avoid the rolls that often have mayo or fried items and stick to plain, raw fish. I used to grab the container and fill it up to what I thought I needed for lunch. And I would eat it all. It usually cost a little over $10 by weight.

But then I noticed that these containers were enormous and that there were much smaller containers right behind them. I skeptically grabbed one and filled IT up – 6, maybe 7 skinny pieces of fish, and a little mound of seaweed. And it was a perfect amount. I did not get hungry and was completely satisfied. And ever since, it has been costing me only about $7 by weight. That's health and money savings!

It's the same with plates. Use small plates at home, order them in restaurants or take them at buffets and you'll trick yourself into feeling fuller with less food. A full plate looks like a lot of food, no matter how small the plate. Plus, while our eyes may not be able to remember 20 years ago, our hardwired instincts do. It's not too hard to reprogram to smaller portions.

Take my friend from work. He has always loved going out to lunch and getting whatever he wants, be it healthy or not. A few years ago when he found himself a bit overweight he didn't stop his lunchtime habits. He simply started eating only half. He now shares his sandwich, quesadilla, burrito, salad, rice bowl, wrap, burger or whatever it happens to be with someone else. Anyone else. Or he saves the other half for another meal. Religiously. And guess what? He's 20 pounds lighter and has significantly lower cholesterol and body fat than he did 2 years ago. And he still eats WHATever he wants, every single day.

So do these mental tricks of slicing plates, containers or even the foods themselves in half sound ridiculous? Check out this article I read the other day comparing portion sizes now to portion sizes of the 1980's with some stunning pictures. Look at that tiny little French fry container! Don't you vaguely remember that little white paper container? That little container with twelve fries in it? None of these half gallon cartons that are served nowadays as a side of fries, just a few is all we needed back then. And go figure, THAT portion was only 210 calories – today’s is nearly 700, and I doubt that’s the maximum. This comparative article was more corroboration than inspiration for me to write this post, but I think it could inspire more than a few people out there to reevaluate what's making them fat, the burger itself – or the other burger hidden inside it?

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