Avoiding Portion Distortion

“Portion distortion” is a big problem for us when it comes to restaurant food and what we make at home.

We’re going to talk about portion control and how you can recalibrate what looks like a “normal” amount to eat.


Portion vs. Serving

A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat at one time. That would be what you pour into a bowl or the total amount of chips you’ve mindlessly eaten from the bag.

A potion may be more or less than a serving.

A serving is the amount of food recommended on nutrition labels and in food guidance.

We need to pay attention to our portions because we might underestimate what we consume and overeat without meaning to.

Portion distortion

Restaurant portions are often huge because that communicates value for your money. We get used to the large portion sizes and tend to have trouble with portion sizes at home, too.

According to healthyeating.org, “the size of dinner plates, muffin tins, and pizza pans have grown” and “cars have larger cup holders to accommodate the drink sizes stores sell.”

We have trouble gauging what is a normal portion of food and that has major effects on our weight management and calorie consumption.

Serving Sizes: Then and Now

Food and beverage 1980s (calories) Today (calories)
Turkey sandwich 320 calories 820 calories
French fries 210 calories 610 calories
Bagel 140 calories 350 calories
Slice of pizza 500 calories 850 calories
Soda 85 calories 250 calories

Simple portion control tricks

  • Repackage super-sized bags into portioned containers like sandwich bags
  • Never eat straight from the package
  • Share a meal with a friend when out
  • Use a smaller plate/bowl/glass
  • Beware the health halos like “low-fat,” “gluten-free,” and “organic” because if we think a food is healthy, we tend to overeat it
  • Avoid eating in front of the TV or while you are busy with other activities

More awareness of how much you eat, in addition to what you’ve learned about what to eat, will lead to better results from your nutrition plan.