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5 Steps to Avoiding Portion Distortion

It's no question that weight gain is a growing problem. One contributing factor? Our portion sizes.

Avoiding Portion Distortion With These Tips

It’s no question that weight gain is a growing problem. One contributing factor? Our portion sizes.

Over the last 25 years, portion sizes have been increasing right along with the average American’s weight. In fact, what qualifies as one portion at a restaurant today may actually be enough for two or three people.

Take a look at this example:

The meal on the left is from 1960 and includes a 7-oz. drink, 1.6-oz. burger and 2.4-oz fries totaling 415 calories. On the right, you can see today’s fast food meal. Super-sizing has led to super portions, skyrocketing a large combo to 1400 calories. And eating those larger portions on a regular basis can lead to one big McProblem.

So how do we get our portions under control? By paying attention to serving sizes instead of portion sizes. A serving size is a measurement standardized by the USDA recommending the amount a person should consume based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Although portion sizes have changed, a serving size is still a standard model we can stick to.

Follow these suggestions to stick to serving sizes:

1. Always check the label

Pay attention to how many servings are in a single portion of food. Many products (like soda, soups, etc.) appear to be enough for one but could contain several servings per container.

2. Plan ahead

When dining out, plan to take some of your meal home when you order. Most restaurants will box up half of the meal for you before serving it. When you’re snacking at home, avoid eating directly out of the box or package. Instead, measure a serving size on a small plate and put the rest away.

3. Slow down

It’s easier to eat a smaller portion if you feel satisfied. Eat slowly so you can pay attention to your hunger and stop when appropriate. Eating with your non-dominant hand can also force you to slow down and focus on the act of eating.

4. Have an appetizer

Eat a serving of vegetables before your meal to fill up. Also make sure to drink plenty of water before and during the meal.

5. Get handy in the kitchen

Use this guide to help estimate serving sizes when you’re preparing meals.

We may not be able to shrink portions back down to their 1960s proportions, but we can be more mindful of our eating habits to stop portion distortion in its tracks.


Learn more about how to pick the right portion size for you! Download our Free Portion Size Guide.