Healthy Food Portions – Myths and Distortions

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,496
    Debbie Woehler from the Oliver Foundation discusses common myths and distortions about eating habits.

    Deborah Woehler: Hi! I am Deborah Woehler with the Oliver Foundation and we have been talking about how to create and know what healthy portion sizes are. Today, we are going to be talking about portion distortion. And what does portion distortion mean? It basically means that our portions have so drastically changed over the last 20, 30, 40, 50 years, we have lost reality of respect of what a normal portion size looks like. So let's take a look at normal portions versus the portion distortion that we are now experiencing. Most of you that if you are 30 or younger may never have experienced a normal portion size, because America has started super-sizing just about everything; fast food, grocery stores, restaurant foods in the early to late 80s. So let's take a look at how some of our portion sizes have changed over the last 20, 30 years, which explains why are bodies are also becoming super-sized. I want you to look at the hamburger example; our super-sized meal, high in fat, high in calories. That's a 1700-calorie meal with the super-sized beverage and this is what we are seeing now. If we look back 20, 30, 40 years, this is what a normal serving size was, and this is what a normal serving size should be today; the four-ounce burger, the small fries and the eight-ounce soft drink. So we can extend that to lots of different types of foods. Now, let's take a look at another food item that most Americans eat and like, and it's pasta. If we look at the pasta serving a few decades ago, this was the serving size according to MyPyramid and this is the half-cup serving. It looks full and nice on the plate with a normal size or a four-ounce serving of wine. Let's look at today's serving size which is five times this serving, pretty typical what's being served in restaurants today and probably in your own homes, and the wine glasses have even increased in size. So this is twice the serving of the alcoholic beverage, so twice the calories. So it's no wonder that Americans are becoming super-sized.

    Let's look at some other commonly eaten foods. For example, a number of years ago, a standard sized muffin was about this size, about 100 calories. Now we are seeing muffins that are approximately five times this size and approaching 500 calories. Now it would be equivalent of four or five servings.

    If we look at how cookies have grown, this used to be the standard cookies many, many years ago and serving size portions are now looking more on this size and even larger. I have seen them as large as six inches so that's equivalent with that six servings. And the bagel, the supposedly healthy food, which it is, but a serving of a bagel has quadrupled in size in the last few decades. Even if we look at our margarita, which you may have at a Mexican restaurant, a standard size was four ounces and now a current size is about 12 ounces. So we have increased the calories from about 300-350 to close to 900 calories. It takes 3500 calories to make an excess pound of body fat so you can do the math and see where the extra calories have come from. So I suggest let's turn back time and look at appropriate healthy portion sizes.