The surprising wake up call
This is an awareness exercise
Once again, we’re also not into controversies. But as an awareness exercise, this always proves interesting.
We’re not suggesting anyone deny themselves a favourite food or treat.
All we are saying is that YOUR IDEA of the portion size may not be the same as the manufacturer’s suggested portion size.
I am going to be the first to put my hands up and admit that I stuck my head in the sand for ages.
Until that nagging voice at the back of my mind finally got me to check what the suggested portion size should be.
Just keep this little fact in mind.
With a quick random check for white rice at Sainsbury’s, an adult serving portion of 75g white rice has about 105 calories.
Here are some examples of where we can get a manufacturer’s recommended serving portions wrong.
- Cadbury Dairy Milk Fingers: Recommended serving portion 4 fingers 108 kcal
- McVities Milk Chocolate Caramel Digestives: Recommended serving portion 1 biscuit 80 kcal (This ended my love affair with these biscuits)
- Tesco Walnut Cake: Recommended serving portion 1/8 of cake 166kcal
Now here’s the thing (and again we are not asking anyone to deny themselves a treat BUT to be aware of the recommended portion size) but
- I think I normally had 6 chocolate fingers not the recommended serving of 4.
- I rarely ever had just one Caramel Digestive.
- And I can honestly say that I divided that tiny walnut cake into FOUR slices rather than eight! Yikes!
But once I realised it was 8 slices. I tried it. And it was just not worth it. It was a wee little sliver of a slice and was one and a half times the calories of a portion of rice.
And that changed things for me. Looking at what the manufacturers recommended portion size. Some foods just seemed … not worth the effort anymore once I saw:
- How small the recommended portion size was AND
- That tiny portion was still more kcal than a whole adult portion of rice!
Portion and Plate size
There has been a lot of research into how plate and bowls have increased and deepened in our households since the 1950s. I dug through some boxes to look at the changes of what I used 20 years ago (left) and what I use now (right)
The average plate size in America has gone from 9 to10 inches to 12 inches and I can safely say that from left to right in the image above, mine has.
But the research is not conclusive and a new study published in the BMC (Plate size and food consumption: a pre-registered experimental study in a general population sample) on whether using a larger plate means consuming more food has shown only a small increase.
Much of the earlier research around the plate size effect was conducted by Brian Wansink and his team at Cornell and Brand labs — though there are questions about the methodology used and some of the research has been retracted or corrected.
Which is a shame; as I still think Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think is a such a fun read and a great eye-opener.
The critical thing is just to be aware. And if you can, just test it out and see if it does make a difference for you.
To make matters more complicated, there has been a rise in the size of the products that we buy. This 2013 report is an interesting and quick read from the British Heart Foundation of changes in sizes between 1993 and 2013: BHF Portion Distortion Report 2013
Action to take: Take a simple pledge:
“For the next seven days, I promise to look at the recommended serving portion of any pre-packed food that I consume.”
It’s actually quite a lot of fun. And laughs and screams.
To find out more about the Million Steps Challenge and how we can help you, your business or charity, please visit https://millionsteps.com
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