By Jillian Butt
Many have heard the saying "everything in moderation" in relation to weight control, but American restaurants and manufacturers are making this motto difficult to follow. Not only are fast food and sit-down restaurants giving more generous servings, but even common grocery products are increasing in size.
This trend has been occurring for hundreds of years, with the most dramatic increases happening in the last 20 years. Scientists at Cornell University have even studied depictions of mealtimes in major works of art such as the "The Last Supper" and found that plate sizes and food quantities in art have increased over time. Combine increased portion sizes with downward trends in time spent exercising, and we could have a serious problem on our hands.
Eating out and buying groceries have become a challenge when trying to maintain or lose weight. Common fast food restaurants have super-sized menus that provide patrons with portions far surpassing those recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans set by the United States Department of Agriculture. For example, Burger King has recently added a new larger, 12 ounce burger option, equaling two days worth of the recommended meat portion. Many of these companies recently have even changed the names of their sizes such as Biggie and Great Biggie to Medium and Large without changing the portion, thus lulling the consumer into a false sense of security. In addition, commonly available foods in grocery stores have increased in size with some being as high as seven times the recommended amounts.
There are a few tricks to make your food choices the right portions. When eating out at a restaurant, always look for highlighted healthier options. For example, TGI Friday's recently advertised their "Right Portion, Right Price" menu with smaller, healthier lunch and dinner options. Also, consider sharing a larger meal between two people or have half of the meal boxed before it is even brought to the table. Make fast food trips a rare occasion, and always choose the smallest size. When eating at home, choose smaller plates, bowls and utensils. Finally, take the time to learn what proper portion sizes look like.
For information and examples, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov.