How serious is portion distortion?
Portion size is a major issue for weight control, because the bigger the meal, the more kilojoules you consume. If you don’t burn off all the kilojoules you eat, no matter how healthy the food is, you will gain body fat or find it very hard to lose.
What causes portion distortion?
There are a number of reasons why people lose perspective on the total volume of food they consume everyday, including:
“It’s low in fat, so I’ll eat more”
Foods such as bread, pasta, rice and breakfast cereal are all low fat, but vary significantly in how much you need before you feel full, depending on how processed they are. For example, white pasta won’t fill you up as much as wholemeal pasta, so you’ll need a larger portion of white pasta to feel satisfied.
“Waste not, want not”
Did your parents make you eat everything on your plate before leaving the table? There seems to be an overwhelming drive in many people to finish what’s in front of them, no matter how full they feel, or how big the serving is.
Eating in front of the TV
Eating in front of the television can result in distracted eating, where you eat more than normal because you lose track of how much you’ve had. Distracted eating can also make you less likely to stop eating when you’re full.
People who get accustomed to large serving sizes may feel cheated if the meal put in front of them isn’t large enough. For a restaurant or fast food chain, food is relatively cheap compared to rent or wages, so they may try to satisfy customers with big servings. This could help explain why the more often you eat out, the fatter you are likelier to be.
How to reduce portion distortion
Following are some strategies to help you get maximum fullness and satisfaction from your foods with the least amount of kilojoules.
1. Slow Down
Eat slowly and savour your food. It takes 10 to 20 minutes for your brain to get signals from your stomach that you are full. By eating slowly, you will eat less.
2. Eat well
Unprocessed foods such as beans, peas, lentils, fruits and vegetables are absorbed slowly, making you feel fuller for longer.
3. Drink water
Water keeps you hydrated and can help to suppress your appetite by keeping your stomach full between meals, taking the edge off your hunger.
4. Eat less, more often
There is scientific evidence to prove that our stomaches can actually stretch, and that obese people have a stomach capacity up to 30 percent more than lean people . To prevent your stomach from stretching from large portions, have smaller meals more often.
REFERENCES1. Obesity Research Centre (New York) 1997