I think American portion sizes are really that big. I studied abroad in Rome and I never went anywhere that I really felt stuffed like I can do on a regular basis. They say, for example, that a french bagel is 1/3 the size of an American bagel.
I also think there is a difference in portion sizes and quality between the UK (where I'm originally from) and Italy (where I am now). Even "fast food" here is more likely to be a slice of pizza done in the oven with tomatoes and a little cheese than a big greasy burger and chips/fries like in the UK, and I am presuming the US.
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2,704 4/22/10 11:37 P
I've lived in Barcelona and Torino, and also visited London, Paris, Stockholm and tons of other smaller European cities.
My experience is that when you only compare restaurants and homes where food is prepared from scratch, portion sizes are pretty similar. However, there are more North American restaurants serving food that arrives frozen, is quickly reheated or deep-fried, and then served. In places like those, the portion sizes tend to be a lot larger.
However, when Europeans serve large amounts of calories in a single meal, they often do it over a longer period of time than we do. An American restaurant might serve a single heaping plate of food, while an Italian one would start with a bowl of risotto, let the diners pause for a chat, and then go on to the meat and vegetable course. With more time to recognize you're full, I would guess fewer calories are eaten.
Finally, Europe doesn't have the snacking culture that we've built in North America (and the UK). Truly, I would rarely see my Italian friends and coworkers snacking, whereas for me it was a normal part of my day.
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Hubby and I just returned to the US after living in Europe for three years. The portion sizes in the US are 2 and somet times 3 times bigger in the US. Also, in Europe, most places use better ingrediants leading to more satisfaction after a treat. In a restaurant, Americans are hurried out. In Europe, spending two hours at a restaurant is closer to the norm. The US and Europe are very different in foods, ingrediants, and meal norms.
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I think it depends on where you go. If you go to a chain restaurant (like the Olive Garden, which would probably induce vomiting for most real Italians), portions tend to be ridiculously bigger. If you are fortunate enough to live in or near an urban area with finer dining opportunities, the portions are much closer to what you find in Europe.
I lived in Italy for a summer and actually lost 15-20 lbs while I was there. I attribute that to all the smaller portion sizes, slower service (it would take twice as long to eat a meal in Italy, forcing you to enjoy your food and conversation more), fresh ingredients, and lack of fast food/delivered meals/processed food. The leisurely post-meal walks helped as well. In conclusion, we should all take a lesson from our European friends and put in the time and effort to truly relish every aspect of the dining experience :)
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4/22/10 7:52 P
Yes, in general portion sizes in the US are definitely FAR bigger than they are in Europe! I live in Ireland, have visited several European countries and never really noticed a difference in the portion sizes in other countries. But the first time I ordered a pizza (individual size serving) in the US, it was so big I actually laughed when it got to my table! Also, I've noticed there's a lot more processed food in American supermarkets, isn't there? For example bread, butter, cheeses, cold meats etc. (I'm just talking about in general by the way - I've also enjoyed some fantastic organic food from American supermarkets )
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I agree. Portions are insane here. I lived in Germany for a year, and their food portions are a lot smaller. When I cooked for my host family, we ended up composting a lot of the food because they couldn't eat it all.
There are also many more healthy choices, and the produce is much better (I"m not sure about meat or dairy, but I would assume that this is the case).
I also found many veg'n restaurants. To my delight, there was an Indian veg'n restaurant in Hamburg, where I was living.
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4/22/10 2:33 P
Yes, portions are definitely much bigger in the US. I just moved to London from NYC this past fall and noticed the difference right away. I find London much more accommodating when it comes to healthy eating. The supermarket produce here is so much better too.
Pookiepup, I noticed the same thing with the beef! I buy pre-formed hamburger patties from Sainsbury's and after adding the generic hamburger patty (correct size) I decided I would stop being lazy and enter the package's exact nutrition info. So glad I did!! The burger had many less calories and fat for the same number of grams.
Yes, US portion sizes are that much larger, and are absolutely ridiculous. They've started creating "diets" for Americans based on the way that French people eat and their portion sizes, when in actuality, it's a normal portion size to the rest of the world that we're considering to be a "diet"
4/22/10 2:05 P
We have things here called 'Double Gulps' (lookin' at you, 7-11) and they are 64 OUNCES of soda. That's a HALF GALLON, and around 800 calories!!
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I have a real issue with foods only listed in "1 serving" or "large" as in its completely useless!
I end up adding lots of things myself, or using other user added foods. I have no clue whats in some US foods but for instance, the calorie/fat/protein range on UK standard fatty beef mince.... is the same as US super lean stuff!!! No wonder my calorie tracker looked insane using the US value, I am glad I checked the lable on the food.
Typically, yes. Of course it all depends on what restaurant/store/whatever you're at, but I did find them to be larger.
In 2007 I visited Bugibba, Malta and Rome, Italy. Each time I went out to eat, I found that the portions were MUCH smaller (sometimes almost half) than what I typically got when going out to eat at the typical restaurant in the southeast U.S.
Manually enter the products you eat -enter the the stuff you used as a item not registered for 100grams of the product.. I don't use preset stuff much, products are different for item to item..
Edited by: RENA1965 at: 4/22/2010 (14:06)
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Hi all, I've only been to the US once, and I was ten years old so I dont remember much about the portion sizes, but I've noticed on Spark that things that come in portions have a lot more calories than I thought. For example, a chocolate croissant comes in at about 500 cals according to Spark, but when I went on a couple of Italian site to check it, and they said 275... are potions sizes really THAT much bigger in the US?
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