What if Our Food Had Stop Signs?
By on July 24th, 2012

In my last, “Just One More Bite” segment, I shared a tip with you about how slowing down and actually putting your fork down between bites can be an effective way to lose weight. Today, I would like to share another simple tip (Aren’t the simple ones the hardest though?) that I hope will help you in your goals to a healthier body. It’s called “Portion Control”.

Burgers and Fries

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Cut Down the Portions

Uggh, those really are nasty little words aren’t they? Well, if you’re a hard core food lover like me, then yes portion control can be a hard thing to deal with. Let’s face it, we grew up in the “Supersize Me” generation. I can remember when sodas were in 12 ounce glass bottles and then they went to 16. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is awesome!” Then they went up to 20 ounces and I actually learned what the capacity of my bladder was, but anyway, enough about that. You know as well as I do that our food portions have gotten larger and larger. So what do we do? Some might say, “let’s start a riot and demand congress hold the fast food industry accountable!” Well, that is one way to handle it, but how about we focus on something a little different. Is it easier to change an entire industry or focus our efforts on our own behavior? I say the latter.

Here’s a tip, the next time you go to your favorite restaurant, ask for a to go box right away. Immediately cut your meal in half and put it in the box. Enjoy the other half and start your journey toward understanding just how much your body really needs to survive. Not to mention, you’ll save money because the other half can be tomorrow’s lunch. The problem is we really have no way of gauging just how much food is on that plate. Restaurants are increasingly publishing their calorie content, so it is a little easier to determine what is going in your body than it used to be. Dividing your meal in half and putting the other half in a little box out of site can really help you take in less calories. The same can be said for snacks. Go out and buy the biggest bag of nacho-cheese-crunchy-goodness that you can get, but don’t sit down with the whole bag at the couch. Get some baggies or sealable containers and portion those chips out.

What if Our Food Had Stop Signs?

Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, in Ithaca, NY recently did an interesting study about portion control. The experiment involved two groups of college students. They were given tubes of potato chips while watching videos in class. Some of the tubes had chips that were dyed red. They put the red chips in the containers marking where the normal serving size would be, which was about 7 chips. They also marked the 14th chip to show 2 serving sizes. The students weren’t aware of why there were red chips in their tube, but it seemed they served as a visual cue to slow the students down. In fact, those students who had red chips ate 50% less than their peers. “People generally eat what is put in front of them if it is palatable,” said Cornell Food and Brand Lab director Brian Wansink. “An increasing amount of research suggests that some people use visual indications such as a clean plate or bottom of a bowl to tell them when to stop eating.”

This serves to reinforce the idea that using visual aid for portion control is another good way to regulate the amount of calories we put in our body. So what do you think? Have you found  effective ways to control portion size that has worked well for you?

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Author: Darrin Jenkins Google Profile for Darrin Jenkins
Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!

Darrin Jenkins has written and can be contacted at darrin@techie-buzz.com.

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