Portion Distortion

By Cassandra Golden, Registered Dietitian

Portion distortion. It’s running rampant in the food industry! Portions of food have been getting bigger and bigger over the past 30 years. Restaurants and food manufacturers have increased their portion sizes for various reasons, including the popularity of all-you-can-eat buffets, super-size meals, larger plates/cups, and public demand for, “more bang for your buck”. It appears that society has made us value our dollar more than our health!

For example, the full sized Fuji Apple with Chicken Salad from Panera Bread has about 700 calories, 46g of fat and 47g of carbohydrates! In comparison, the half portion of the strawberry poppyseed chicken salad has less than 200 calories, 6g fat and 20g carbohydrates. Unfortunately, salads can really have a ‘halo effect’, meaning that you automatically think that it’s healthy just because it’s a salad!

If weight loss is a goal for you, consuming smaller portions of food is one of the easiest ways to cut back on calories. Here are some calorie-saving tips that will lead you in the right direction:

  1. Order a smaller size from the menu


  1. Use a smaller plate at home. A study from The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that simply using a smaller plate can help people automatically eat fewer calories.


  1. Customize your restaurant order with dressings, sauces and toppings on the side


  1. Pay once and eat twice by portioning half of your food into a to-go container or Tupperware at home or in a restaurant at the start of the meal


  1. Pay attention to the serving size on packaged foods. For example, if a smaller bag of pretzels contain 2.5 servings per bag…and you eat the whole bag in one sitting, the calories, fat, salt (…and so on) must be multiplied by 2.5!