Friday, December 4, 2015

Portion Distortion, Serving Size, and Weight Control: Scale Down Calorie-dense Foods, But Scale UP Healthy Veggies!

"Portion distortion" - bigger isn't always better!  Most of us are aware that serving sizes of food and drink have ballooned over the last few decades - right along with ballooning rates of obesity, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems related to excess weight.  Here is the problem:  on one hand Americans tend to have over-sized servings of unhealthy food...but on the other hand, we have under-sized servings of healthy vegetables, and fruit!  

Research confirms our suspicions that we tend to consume more when we are served larger portions of food and drink.  We also tend to eat larger portions when we use larger plates, forks, spoons, and drinking glasses. We serve ourselves more, and then eat more per bite. The latest research published in the British Medical Journal states that eliminating oversized portions could reduce calorie intake by 12-16% in the United Kingdom, and 22-29% in the United States.  That is a pretty impressive improvement by simply using smaller plates, utensils, and having smaller portions served to us.

But here is the problem  - we have to be VERY careful with the message about portion control.  Some people have gotten the idea that we should cut down portions of ALL types of food.  I don't know about you, but I have never met anyone who was eating too much broccoli, or too many healthy salad greens.  

The message should be that we should DECREASE the servings size of "calorie-dense" foods (fatty and sugary processed foods which have a lot of calories per bite), but at the same time we should INCREASE the serving size of our high fiber, lower-calorie foods (salads, broccoli, etc - see our prior blog post for a list: )!  We can fill up on the "good stuff" and feel full and satisfied, and get plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, and more, while simultaneously cutting down on calories, excess saturated fat and processed carbohydrate. Adding higher fiber foods may also help us lose weight:

I shared the research on Facebook earlier today, and a very successful, healthy patient of ours made the following comment: "Been doing this trick for several years now. My dinner plate is 7 inches and my salad bowl, which I lovingly refer to as my feeding trough, is quart-size!" Bingo, we have a winner here! This strategy helps down-size the calories, while up-sizing the nutrition!

And now, a quick update on our American Viking Diet. For those who don't know, we are working on a book - and a series of cooking videos - featuring the healthy Nordic Diet (which has been studied in Scandinavia for over 10 years, and has health benefits similar to the Mediterranean diet.) We are adapting the European version to our American foods and tastes - and we'll show you simple, healthy recipes using locally available, seasonal foods! I'm working with fabulous cook Melissa Clifford of Sweet Melissa's in Dover, and we've already filmed two recipes...we'll let you know when we're done with editing, and have them online. We hope to have the book out this spring, but will get you sneak peaks at the recipes even earlier!

As always, we are here to help you set up, fine-tune, and maintain (or rework) your healthy lifestyle plan! Call anytime at (603) 379-6500. We are available for private consultations in person, online, on the phone, or via Skype. Read more about our program here:

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