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Friday’s flavor: Don’t supersize it

James Painter, Family and consumer sciences chair and professor at Eastern Illinois University, spoke to a full room at Neumiller lecture hall on Nov. 11. His presentation was a delightful mix of comedy and common sense as he spoke about portion sizes and healthful eating.
Painter recently conducted an experiment in which two of his students ate all their meals for 30 days at fast food restaurants. However, the students were required to eat the appropriate portions of food. The results of the experiment were astonishing: both students were able to lose weight and lower their cholesterol.
These results suggest that it is not the quality of fast food that we should be concerned with but the portion sizes.
Throughout the remainder of Painter’s presentation, he discussed five factors that influence the amount of food we eat.
Portion size
Through the decades, portion sizes have expanded to such an extent that one meal at a restaurant can provide a day’s worth of calories. Serving sizes may be two to three times the USDA recommended portion sizes.
A serving of meat is about two or three ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards. Serving sizes for other proteins would be two tablespoons of nut butters, two eggs and one-third cup of dry beans.
A serving of bread is equal to one slice of white or whole grain bread, one ounce of prepared cereal, one half cup of pasta or rice. A serving of fruit is equal to one piece of fresh fruit, one half a cup of chopped fruit or three-fourths cup of fruit juice.
A serving of vegetables is equal to half cup of chopped vegetables or one cup of raw leafy vegetables. A serving of dairy is equal to one cup of milk or one and one half ounces of cheese.
Painter suggests splitting a meal with a friend or asking for a doggy bag right after receiving your meal and putting half of your meal away immediately.
Size and shape of container
The bigger the container you are eating out of, the more you are likely to consume. Additionally, the shape of the container also influences the perception of how much you are consuming.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the serving size listed on packages may be more than what a person would typically eat at one time.
Visibility and convenience
People tend to eat more when food is in sight and within reach. Therefore, unhealthy candies and snacks should be kept further away from your desk while healthier snacks, like a bowl of grapes, should be kept in a convenient location that is easy to see and reach.
Labels
The way entrees are described on a menu can heavily influence the perception of taste and quality and plays a role in how much is eaten.
The more descriptive a food label is, the more appealing the food item will appear, and the more you will eat. So don’t be fooled.
Visual cues
When we are eating, we use visual cues to help gauge how much we have eaten and how much more we should eat.
For instance, we have a tendency to eat until we see the bottom of the plate. If you are member of the “Clean Your Plate Club,” you may need to downsize the dishes you eat your food from so that you will not be consuming more food than you need.
Additionally, seeing the remnants of what we have eaten, such as chicken bones, serves as a self-monitoring method that helps us consume less.
Visit www.eiu.edu/~jpainter
for more information about James Painter and www.portionsizeme.com
to learn more about the Portion Size Me video.
Editor’s note: Friday’s Flavor is edited for accuracy by Jeanette Davidson, a registered dietician and head  of the dietetics program.
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