I was watching yet another food based TV advert the other day when I was reminded how big portion sizes have become. The advert in question showed all sorts of meals including the advertised product and it was when a child's plate was shown that it really struck me. This representation of a child's meal was at best an adults size meal, if not bigger.
So I thought I would do a little investigating. I wanted to find out how much portion sizes have changed in the last few decades. The changes between the 1950s and today are massive. Portion sizes are up to 4 times bigger. FOUR times! I find this a pretty shocking statistic. This coupled with the fact that we are becoming less active certainly goes some way in explaining the obesity epidemic that is a constantly growing problem.
"Increased plate, cup and portion sizes – especially of ready meals - are another factor: research by the British Heart Foundation found that in the last 20 years, individual chicken pies grew in size by 40 per cent and curry meals by 50 per cent."*
I think one of the reasons we are eating more than we need to stems from most of our childhoods. Who can remember their parents telling them to finish all of their food? You can't leave the table until it's all gone... I think this is a pretty common habit that we have all gotten into. We don't want to waste the food that we put on our plates. Now I am a strong believer in not wasting food but I also think it's time we start to consider our portion sizes more carefully. Why not try and measure out your portions or try and dish up a spoonful less each mealtime. Making a small change like this will probably not only reduce the calories that you consume, you may also save money as you will find yourself needing slightly less food each week and I think you will still be full once you've finished your meal. Another challenge to set yourself is thinking about how full you are feeling when you are eating. When you reach that point of feeling satisfied, stop. Stop eating and see how much you have leftover. The first few times that you do this, you may find that you have wasted a little bit of food. But what you will learn is how big your portions need to be for you to be satisfied. Which I am sure will save you wasting food and money in the future. Don't forget that everyone's portions should not be the same size! We are all different shapes and sizes and have different activity levels. If you have a family of 2 adults and 2 children and you fed them all very similar portion sizes chances are at least 2 if not 3 people will be getting either too much or too little food than is ideal to maintain a healthy weight (usually too much!). Remember, quality not quantity. So, give it a try and let me know how you get on...
Thanks for reading, until the next time,
Vicki is a Personal Trainer, Coach and Swimming Teacher with the aim of helping others achieve their health and fitness goals.