Why is it getting harder to get the balance right?
Portion size has become harder and harder to control in the last 30 years because what we see as a normal amount of food on our plate has changed. Because of this it has become harder and harder to get sizes right and stick to it.
It all started here
Globally this process of buying and eating more than we want began in the late 60’s when a Chicago cinema chain wanted to sell more popcorn so they added extra sizes instead of just one. David Wallerstein, the man given the job of getting us to buy with our eyes instead of our stomachs began the process of portion inflation and then took this to his next employer, MacDonald’s who took it to a newer level with the super-sizing of almost it’s entire menu.
Imported United States culture and portions
The recent growth in over ordering and over eating in the UK has many reasons the influence of US culture has been significant though. Since people have been holidaying in the USA, and returning to claim that; "The food there is unbelievable. The portions you get are massive,” There has been a shift to put more food in front of us.
Value for money has been another key factor. When we get more for our spend we associate this with it being a good thing. Food manufacturers and retailers here have been slowly and consistently inflating portion sizes.
As portion size grew, so did everything else
What was once a large portion has now shrunk to a medium or regular size portion; crisps now come in enormous family bags and even our cutlery has put on a few pounds too. The growth in size of our portions has had a knock on effect on the landscape of the table too. Plates have got bigger, dining tables have grown to accommodate the size of the plates, pans have been getting bigger, as have cutlery, condiments and almost all food stuffs.
Restaurants use visual tricks to get us to eat more and yet not notice the portion excess. They often serve the plates on other plates to give a feeling of even greater value and quality, yet still appearing to be appropriately sized meals. Dining room plates have grown so much that some plates now do not fit in standard size kitchen cupboards, resulting in kitchens groaning under the strain of portion inflation.
Profit seeking makes us fat
The amount that we are being encouraged to eat has expanded because there is more profit in it for food retailers. Food volumes are inflating as consumers demand proportionately more for their spend. The food industry focus on what is profitable, the responsibility for this lies with food purchase decisions not the way it is promoted. To combat this follow the advice around the site.
2 for 1 offers, multi packs, three courses for the price of two and free fill ups on drinks, have all been used to get the consumer to spend more. Buying and eating food, just because it is "good value" is making our food intake and our waistlines grow. To take back control, plan your eating around how hungry you are not how much you can consume for your budget.
Avoid the traps
Portion size is significantly different today and for those looking at techniques to weight loss there is an opportunity to make long term weight changes by learning to avoid the traps set by business to get you to over indulge. Use the 25 healthy lifestyle tips to help you avoid many of the over eating traps. For simple tips to take control of your food portions see the tips on portion sizes page here.
For more advice and support to deal with portion size or weight contact me