Portion Distortion

During the last 25 to 30 years, the standard serve-size of popular everyday foods and drinks has crept upwards. Muffins are so large that you can carve them like a cake. Dainty biscuits have turned into cookie monsters. This means you are fueling up with more kilojoules and calories without even noticing. And unless you seriously up-size your activity, this 'silent' trend to super-size food can only mean one thing - larger serves are turning consumers into jumbo sizes!

Larger packets, plates and bowls entice bigger bites and faster eating.

Larger serves pack in a whole lot more kilojoules/calories and if you don't need this extra fuel, you'll store it as body fat. Portion distortion is everywhere when food and drink is involved.

To help you re-size your food and drink for better health and body shape, check out my award winning unique book "this=that: a life-size photo guide to food serves". Full colour, life-size photos of food and drink allow you to see exactly how much your body needs, whether you are 14 or 100 yrs of age! You can make food and drink choices that satisfy your desire, nutrition and tummy.

With "this=that" you can adjust your dietary intake and health without counting calories or following a strict rigid diet plan.

You choose the foods you want.

Choose foods that give you a better fill (and take hunger away) for the same energy value (kilojoules/calories).

If you want the facts for a child aged 4 through to 13 years, check out the children's version called "this=that child size: a life-size photo guide to kids' food serves".

Some disturbing facts and examples of how small changes can stack on excess body weight.

  • You can't always trust the description of a serve size on a food label.
    • Trudy's investigations in 2008, in 2013 and again in 2017 show that manufacturers and fast food outlets often generously over-size foods in packs. Whilst this may only be by a few grams or so, those extra morsels add up.
    • If you use the sides of packs to calorie count per serve, you really need to invest in some good scales and weigh your serve or simply use my book to decide the serve size. The differences between actual and claimed serve size accounted for close to 200 kJ (50 cals) extra fuel for some food items.
    • The life-size photo images in "this=that" make it is easy to judge the best portion or serve size for your health.
  • Vending machines and drink fridges stock regular 375 ml (12 oz) cans of soft drink but for just a few cents extra, you can buy the 600 ml (20 oz) size, so you do. If you get a drink everyday and think nothing of the extra few gulps of liquid quenching your thirst, in just 1 year that small change in drink choice could add a massive 5 kg (11 lb) of fat to your body.
  • Over the past few years you may have noticed a slow weight gain of 1 or 2 kg (2.2 - 5 lb) each year. You put it down to age but in truth you're not that old and you're still as active as ever, so what could be causing it? Perhaps your portions have up-sized without your knowledge?
    • Take the chocolate bar that's been your faithful treat all your adult life - it's never been a problem because you only have it once a week. But did you notice when the size of some single-serve bars snuck up from 55 g (2 oz) to 85 g (3 oz)? This small change, eaten just once a week, will cause a weight gain of almost 1 kg (2.2 lb) a year. In 2012, the bars shrunk a little but they are still bigger than 10 or 15 years ago!
    • How about your workday sandwich? Delicious and nutritious and still only using two slices of bread but you probably didn't notice that your slice of bread has grown in size by almost 40% during the past 20 years! The bread is almost toast-thick but it's sold as a sandwich loaf. Have a sandwich, five times a week on this up-sized slice and you've eaten enough extra fuel to pack on 2 kg (5 lb) weight in just one year.

There are some surprising serve sizes inside "this=that":

  • Compare 18 prawns with 2 crumbed calamari rings or 1 skinless chicken leg. There's no prize for knowing which one is more filling, but which has the highest energy rating? Incredibly, they are all equal.
  • How about your banana? How big is it and is it only 1 serve of fruit?
  • The life-size photos show that 4 licorice allsorts or 1 row of chocolate is equal to almost a whole rockmelon or 24 mini-meringues.
  • And amazingly, instead of 3 lonely potato wedges you could super-size your green vegetables, pumpkin and carrot to a full plate for much more nutrition, better satisfaction and gut-fill and the same energy hit.

I don't suggest you strive for total portion control and perfection in everything you eat or drink. Indeed, perfection is a little obsessive. It is easier and more flexible to adjust and improve how much you serve yourself (serve sizes or portion size) using "this=that".