Supersizing isn’t just an American phenomenon. Little by little we are having an extra couple of mouthfuls of every meal, snack and drink. The truth is, the humble dinner plate is bigger than ever before, and health experts warn this ‘portion creep’ is the key to our growing weight problems.
Over the past two decades, the portions we’re serving (and being served) have gradually been creeping up. In the 60’s the diameter of the average dinner plate was about 25cm (10 inches), whereas today it’s more like 30cm (12 inches). While this may not sound like a big difference, a recent Australian study found that plating up our meals onto this bigger size plate can mean we’re unwittingly serving ourselves 60-100 per cent more. That’s a whole lot of extra pasta!
So, why don’t we just eat less? The solution sounds quite simple, but the problem is, we’re an obedient bunch – and we tend to finish everything on our plate, just like our mothers taught us. We have become so accustomed to these larger serves that we consider them ‘normal’ and often eat far more than what we actually need. Have you ever felt disappointed when being served the smaller piece of the pie? Or are you carelessly filling your brekkie bowl with double the appropriate serving size of cereal?
So, how can you win the portion distortion battle? Here are my top three tips:
Downsize your plates and bowls. The size of your plate is one of the biggest factors influencing the amount you. Use a small bowl to eat pasta – you’ll not only eat less, but it will seem more satisfying than eating the same amount in a large bowl. Also, try using a small teaspoon when eating a rich dessert. Because you eat more slowly, your body will have time to register that full feeling.
Be portion savvy. If you buy bargain sized supermarket foods (think 1kg bags of nuts), create healthy portions by dividing the contents into small amounts. For example, portion out 10-15 nuts into reusable containers or zip-lock bags. Pack away leftovers in the fridge before you sit down to eat. This saves you being tempted to go back for seconds (or even thirds…).
Eat mindfully. You’ll be surprised how often people overeat because they are focusing on something other than the food in front of them. Switch the TV off during meals, and avoid eating in the car while driving. Take the time to savour each mouthful and listen to your body’s hunger cues.