The Ramblings of Annie Abalam

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Weekly Food Log

Today, I watched two presentations.  One of them prompted my previous blog on portion control.

Portion control and portion distortion are things that I am always trying to figure out, mostly because I have an eating disorder, partially because I have been raised in America where portions are anything but normal.  I constantly find myself looking at the amount of food on my plate and thinking “Is this a normal amount? Is this too much?” I worry all the time that I am overfeeding myself, allowing myself to gain weight, get fat, hurt my body, and be rejected by society.  The truth is that I have absolutely no clue how much food I should be eating.  Sure, I see pictures on the Internet posted by government agencies, but I do not see a whole lot of people practicing what the government preaches.  Rather, I do not see the government forcing restaurant owners to practice what the government preaches.

With our country struggling with obesity, I find it hard to understand why restaurants are not being forced to change their menus.  I understand that restaurants make large amounts of money off of obese individuals.  Some (like the Heart Attack Grill) are open about it, which can be interpreted a number of ways.  Still, most establishments allow people to blindly consume unreal amounts of calories, fat, and cholesterol all in the name of profit.  How can the government allow this to persist?

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Apparently I am not the only one who struggles with portion control

I am an extremely loyal Food Politics reader.  This week, I read Nutritionist’s Notebook: Portion Control.  In this post, Marion Nestle answers the question “What is the importance of size in our portions? What is the best way to judge portions when going out to dinner?”

Her response to this question is fairly basic, but is definitely new information to many US citizens.  She says two things:

  1. Larger portions means higher caloric value.
  2. Restaurants give people larger portions, which people end up eating, subsequently.  People do not understand that eating this much is problematic because it has become the norm.  To combat this, order appetizers and not entrees when eating at restaurants.

People have grown accustomed to larger portions over the years, and I lump myself into that category. Chains like Applebees, Red Robin, and Chili’s all offer large portions.  The largest portions I have ever seen were at The Cheesecake Factory.  I have heard that entrees there can pack over 1000 calories.  Over the years, I have found that chains are the real culprit when it comes to portion issues.  The amount of food you receive at those places (especially if you order a dish with meat) is absurd.  Average sized people cannot finish what they are given, resulting in wasted food.

At my weird little hole-in-the-wall vegan restaurants, however, the portions are seldom large.  I always want more, and I would attribute that to two things:

  1. I am used to large portions from eating out when I was little.
  2. I do not get to eat tasty food frequently.

I am in complete agreement with Nestle on this issue (as I am with most; I’m a groupie).  The amount of food people are served at restaurants makes them believe these outrageous portions are acceptable, which they are not.

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