In our culture, portion sizes have long been a fuzzy subject that have increased in size over the last 20 years, whereas in other countries, portion sizes are more modest, and ingrained in their culture.
Take France for example, where they have the “French Paradox” of eating rich foods while maintaining a healthy body weight. Not only do they eat smaller portions, but they eat high quality foods, and take the time to enjoy them.
However, studies have shown that in recent years the French are eating at a much quicker pace, fast food sales are booming, and as of 2011 the adult obesity rate in France was at “nearly 14 percent.” According to Dr. Jean Marc Catheline, an obesity specialist, this trend is occurring in part due to “urbanization, immigration and globalization.”
It’s all about perception as Professor Paul Rozin alludes to in his research, “many studies have shown that, if food is moderately palatable, people tend to consume what is put in front of them and generally consume more when offered more food.”
As the Chinese proverb says, “the more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor.”
Which is why we are reintroducing healthy portion sizes in our cafeterias.
We have trained our food service staff on what constitutes proper portion sizes, and have instituted portion scoops for our hot main entrees.
We are also sitting down with our students at lunch to discuss the importance of being aware of portion sizes throughout their day.
We have posted this hand guide to portion control in our cafeterias to give students a practical way of measuring their food intake, along with MyPlate to get our students thinking about creating balanced plates.
We do hope that our efforts will help shift the portion size paradigm in our country, student by student.
Photo courtesy of GuardYourHealth and bewellbarroncounty.org