How Much is TOO Much?
How often do you feel you have eaten too much?
For most people, the answer is, "too often."
The fact is, the size of our meals has been
increasing in recent years to beyond what is
considered healthy. The same goes for beverages
- we are drinking larger and larger bottles
of sweetened drinks. Most of us have a pretty
good idea of what to eat to stay healthy. But
we are losing track of how much we need to eat.
Portion sizes in North American restaurants
have grown dramatically in recent years. A typical
restaurant meal now provides 1,000 calories.
The average woman needs about 2,000 calories
a day, and men need slightly more. Eating in
a restaurant can load you up with half a day's
calories in just one meal.
Studies have shown that when we are served
larger portions, we unwittingly eat more. One
such study involved researchers giving adults
either an extra large bag of popcorn or a small
one. The participants then watched a movie.
After the movie, researchers measured the amount
of popcorn participants ate. Those given the
extra large bag ate 40 - 50% more popcorn than
those given the small bag. Yet both groups thought
they ate the same amount of popcorn.
When we eat from a larger container, we inevitably
eat more food. For example, we tend to finish
our plateful of food, regardless of how large
the plate is. Plates, muffin tins, fry containers
and drink containers have all increased in size
in the last few years. Unfortunately, so have
our waistlines. Astonishingly, over 60% of adults
and 13% of children in North America are overweight
Soft drinks have dramatically increased in
size. When colas first appeared on the market,
the bottles were 6oz and provided about 60 calories.
A bottle of pop has now tripled in size to 20
oz and 200 calories. Buy a soft drink at a convenience
store and you can get up to 64 oz and 700 calories,
in a cup.
Let's compare how a fast food meal has changed.
Forty years ago, an adult typically ordered
a hamburger, small fries and regular pop, providing
about 600 calories. This same meal is now marketed
to children. The typical meal today consists
of a burger that is over double the size, fries
that have nearly tripled in size, and a drink
that has grown from 12 oz to a whopping 30 oz.
This meal adds up to an astonishing 1500 calories.
Why is the food industry making such large
servings? To increase profits. Sugar and many
other foods are cheap. Labor and rent make up
a larger portion of expenses to the food industry.
More and more people are selecting foods based
on the portion size and value for dollar, rather
than choosing a healthy and often more flavorful
meal. But do we really want to pay someone to
make us fat?
In Europe, appetites are a little different.
France's obesity rate is only 7%. Not surprisingly,
portion sizes are significantly smaller. For
example, fast food chains in France sell smaller
chicken burgers than they do in North America.
Europeans are often shocked when they see the
size of meals in North American restaurants.
Ever wonder why you get smaller portions in
fancier restaurants? Because the chefs know
that if you eat too much, your satisfaction
goes down. With a smaller portion you are more
likely to remember how delicious the food is.
You may also have room for dessert. And, you
will probably leave the restaurant feeling better
than you would if you were overstuffed.
Tips for Eating Less