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Portion Size Illusion

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oh, I know sooooo much about portion control. I've learned how to eyeball something and tell you pretty accurately how much it is. But once I've done that, I'm always tempted to add a little more ... or a lot more! So, portion control seems to always be "just ahead" ... I never seem to catch up to it!

Until recently. I ordered a subscription to a meal service. I love it! I drop by a little store twice a week and pick up my meals. The food is healthy and delicious. I subscribe to a 400 calorie per meal plan. Last night, I looked at the container. SERIOUSLY!? THAT is 400 calories? I checked the accompanying nutritional info. Nope ... 410 calories. OK, on average the calories are 400 ... the meals range from 370 to 410 calories. All the same, there really didn't seem to be ENOUGH food there to be 410 calories.

I removed the food to a lovely china bowl and rewarmed it. It was the most delicious black turtle bean soup with a grated cheddar cheese topping. I warmed the yummy confetti cornbread side that came with it. I sat down to eat. My meal was ever so delicious!

As I ate, I realized that for years, my thinking goes like this ...

I want the figure with the little waist ... but I want to eat the extra large chocolate bar. I sat about to determine what's wrong with my thinking. Why does my head think that this big ole candy bar might be a portion?

Do you see what I see? I have, over the years, mentally become accustomed to these larger serving sizes and think that I must have them in order to be satisfied. And if I do have them, I will no longer have a definable waist. So which do I want ... an hourglass figure or a super-sized diet? The choice is mine.

Which plate contains the most food?

Can you tell just by looking? Check it out, then scroll down for the answer.



There is exactly the same amount of food on each plate. Makes me want to use my smaller plates & bowls and convince my mind that my portion is JUST the right size!

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
2BDYNAMIC 3/24/2013 11:48AM

    emoticon and loved the visuals ........... today my DH fixed a 'big Sunday breakfast' while I was scrubbing bathrooms ................ Low and behold there was all this food ............... I plated a luncheon plate and after several bites I knew I was done .................. (Do not try to clean up my plate if I know I had enough and so glad the cook understands! Easy does it ................. 2B (Jan) ........ emoticon

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LIVINGFREE19 3/23/2013 10:16AM

    I LOVE your visual blogs, they are awesome!

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NEEDTOLOOSE1 3/22/2013 8:36PM

    Very good blog. That's why it's best for me to pack lunch and take it work, then I have it measured out. If I have the food I work I don't measure it. I have asked my husband not to fill my plate at night, that I needed to do that myself. So that helps a lot.
emoticon emoticon

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GODS_TEMPLE 3/22/2013 7:22PM

    I have been using a Bread and Butter plate instead of a full sized plate for years. Learned that in Weigh Down Workshop. The problem is, all those things I ate in between those little meals!

Just thought I'd add this: Did you know you just order an appetizer when you go to a Restaurant? I've done that many times, and they still serve me! emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/22/2013 7:25:10 PM

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WORKNPROGRESS49 3/22/2013 5:58PM

    emoticon for the great visuals/blog

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ITSMYTYME2SHYNE 3/22/2013 5:55PM


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CAKEMAKERMOM 3/22/2013 4:40PM

    I love using my small plates and bowls for most everything. It makes me feel like I have more.

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MARYJOANNA 3/22/2013 2:51PM

  What interesting information and an eye-opener. emoticon

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NILLAPEPSI 3/22/2013 2:45PM

    What an eye opener!! emoticon

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ABELL29 3/22/2013 2:30PM

    Everyone laughs at me when I ask for a smaller plate to eat off of. Family dinners usually have those big chinet platter style plates ... and everyone fills them to the brim. I'll grab a salad sized plate and fill that. I have less food, properly portioned less food, but with the smaller plate I feel like I'm having a big meal, too. I even do it at home. Hubs likes to eat off the dinner sized plates, but I always opt for the salad sized. And my measuring cups are ALWAYS dirty. I feel like I know what a proper portion looks like, but sometimes I still like to measure just to be sure!

Comment edited on: 3/22/2013 2:31:50 PM

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KARENLEIGH32 3/22/2013 2:07PM

    Interesting that you touched on this in your blog. I recently started using a smaller plate, I kept seeing it in the articles I read. I may be crazy but it seems to work.

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JULIERAE41 3/22/2013 10:56AM

    You are so right, Cathy! Thanks so much for taking the time to put these together. You're amazing!

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COCK-ROBIN 3/22/2013 8:15AM

    A very good lesson on portion control

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GAILANN48 3/22/2013 7:54AM

    Yes, portions... Seems like "what" and "how much" are my lessons this week, because your blog made me think about much more than food. There are other aspects of my life that need that same awareness and moderation, with an eye to choosing what and how much more wisely. The things that come immediately to mind are my words, my work, my needs, my wants, my willingness to help. Thanks for all the work you had to do to put this together - really nice job, Cathy! And you've really given me food for thought today.

emoticon :) Gail

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KENWANNE2013 3/22/2013 6:54AM

    Thank you for this. As someone who can only eat small portions at a time (or suffer the consequences), I do find the portions offered in most restaraunts quite ridiculous (although it doesn't stop me stoically working through them on occasions!).

I started using a smaller plate some time ago, and first was worried I wouldn't be eating enough, sometimes I was convinced I would 'need' to go back for seconds. In reality, I rarely do. eating smaller portions I think helps with becoming aware of fullness. Occasionally, I do go back for seconds - confident that I can eat just a little more (rather than just being plain greedy).

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MOONSTREAM 3/22/2013 6:51AM

    great information! thanks. i tried a 1/2 cup serving of ice cream this week - really?!? who does that? Sparkers do!

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CASEYSAUER 3/22/2013 5:46AM

    Thanks for the visuals!

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KKKAREN 3/22/2013 5:34AM

    I usually eye ball it too and find that after a while I start going over.

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