Food: The Proof Is In The Portion

We are a large people. 65% of us are overweight, 30% actually obese. How did we reach this point?

We ate ourselves into a prison of our own fat.

Why?

Well, we certainly didn't sit down and decide that we wanted to gain weight, did we? We had no pressure on us to fatten ourselves for some eventual slaughter. On the contrary, as our collective girth increased, we paradoxically elevated scrawny to a cultural icon, happily dismissing the corseted matronly figures of the past two centuries.

Where did the disconnect between our reality and our ideals begin?

We can blame the processors who milled out the vitamins and minerals we need. We can blame the preservers who cut back on fiber and freshness in favor of additives and chemicals. We can blame the packagers who added sugar and starch to everything. We can blame the fast food industry for frying everything and we can blame the beverage companies for their addictive colas.

While all of these made their contributions to our current plight, one source of our caloric distress runs through everything: portion size.

We eat hamburgers - not the gigantic, multi-patty ones, just a standard burger - that are 3 times as big as those of 30 years ago. Our orders of french fries are at least twice the size of their cousins in the 1970s. Pizza no longer has cheese only on the top but its crust is also filled. Large soft drinks are the size of watering cans instead of baby bottles. Recipes that once announced "serves 8" now report "serves 4" with exactly the same ingredients. Bagels and muffins are 3 to 4 times as large as their predecessors (and any fan of Seinfeld knows that only the tops are worthwhile). Thank heavens for hormones that can produce the 20 to 30 pound turkeys we demand for our holiday dinners.

Compare the small boxes of frozen vegetables that so awed us in the 1950s with the huge bags available today, awash in butter or cheese sauce. The TV dinners we precariously balanced on rickety tray tables are now heavy enough that those same tables wouldn't hold them.

Restaurant meals have grown as well, with a "to go" container almost standard because few eaters can finish them (although we try terribly hard). Far from their smorgasbord roots, buffets have become almost obscene in their offerings.

Whatever happened to nouvelle cuisine? Has the fastidious gourmet been completely swallowed by the voracious gourmand? Is gluttony no longer a deadly sin?

We love nothing better than a good bargain: something for nothing or, at the very least, at a discount. If we can obtain just a few more ounces of something for negligible extra money, we pounce on the larger size. If we're offered two for the price of one and a half, we don't have to stop and think. If we can save money by buying a whole package, even if we don't want all of it, we'll do it because it makes economic sense (ah, the birth of super size!)

Where did we get the idea that bigger is better? Is it the national legacy of the depression when we swore we'd never "do without" again? Is it a natural spillover from our thoughtless squandering of the world's resources? Is it the speed and stress of our competitive lives that logically leads to our attacking our food with the same disregard for restraint we show in business?

Whatever has brought us to this point, it is time for us all to cry "enough!" We may fear terrorist attacks or biological warfare but it is our daily over-consumption of food that is killing us. Diabetes, clogged arteries, and other obesity-related illnesses cost 350,000 American lives a year and the figure continues to climb. The associated medical costs are staggering and threaten eventual bankruptcy for the Medicare system if not reined back.

Several states and school districts are attempting to apply brakes to a junk food society out of control. A change in the structure of our farm subsidy programs has been suggested - to reward the growers of healthy crops and penalize those who raise the building blocks of edible garbage (sugar and corn syrup). Taxation, as has been used to curb the purchase of cigarettes, could change the consumption equation by hitting our wallets (and a 1 cent tax on every soft drink sold in the United States would raise 40 billion dollars a year).

However, the great change will only come when each of us, individually and collectively, start cutting back.

We need to insist, repeatedly and loudly, that restaurants serve child and senior size plates to adults and split orders without extra charge (where are the class action lawyers when you need them?) We have to demand that small sizes of meal components are offered. We should start boycotting those huge "economy" sizes of everything from soft drinks, to frozen potatoes, to cooking lard, and potato chips.

And the buck finally stops at our own plate. For our health, our longevity, and our looks, we must limit how much we eat of anything. If we cut our intake in half, we will be doing ourselves, our children, and our society a great favor and our bodies will thank us for it.

Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker's Edge, she recently published a psychologically-based weight control e-workbook, "Diet with an Attitude" which develops mental skills towards the goal of permanent weight control.

She can be reached at http://www.DietWithAnAttitude.com

She provides support and guidance in use of the workbook through her regular blog, http://dietwithanattitude.blogspot.com

In The News:


Fresh and Fit: 10 common weight loss mistakes
Nooga.com
Last week, I talked about some weight loss tips to help you reach your goals, but there are a lot of ways to hinder your progress as well. Most people want to lose weight, and where there's a need, there are people trying to make money. Because of this ...


Comicbook.com (blog)

Director Kevin Smith Shares His Weight Loss Secrets
Comicbook.com (blog)
True story: on Tusk, I learned how to lose weight WHILE making a movie. The secret is to not eat sugar and stand all day. I never sit behind the monitor: I'm always moving now. I've been wearing a Jawbone bracelet and using the UP app to count my daily ...

and more »

How A Breakup Led To A 136-Pound Weight Loss For Lisa Jarrett
Huffington Post
How I Gained It: I grew up in a single-income, blue collar family outside of Chicago. My parents, while at normal weights in their youth, were both obese, and I picked up on many of their bad behaviors. Growing up, dinners consisted of lots of greasy ...

and more »

Debra Goldman of Wayland: Weight loss woes
Wicked Local Weston
The last time I wrote about my weight loss, I was closing in on 30 pounds lost (last year). I kept it off for many months until recently when my weight started to climb again. My pesky metabolic disorder has reared it's ugly head again! My body doesn't ...

and more »

USA TODAY

Study turns tables on value of breakfast, weight loss
USA TODAY
Grandmothers, marketers and researchers alike have long touted breakfast as a must-have meal, praising its ability to rev up metabolism, stave off hunger, help calorie watchers keep their weight in check and improve concentration and cognitive function.
Breakfast Not Important and Fine to Skip for Weight LossViral Global News
Breakfast Might Not Help You Lose WeightTIME
Eating Breakfast Has Little Effect On Weight Loss, Study FindsHeadlines & Global News
Forbes
all 104 news articles »

Bill Clinton Credits Sugar-Free Diet For Weight Loss: A Vegan Diet If Not ...
International Business Times AU
Weight loss expert and a frequent guest on the Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Mark Hyman, has been the dietician for Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton for the past 10 years. He has been providing his valuable tips and diets to the Clintons since 2004, and ...


Why Aren't Rx Weight-Loss Drugs More in Demand?
WebMD
Doctors are more likely to advise obese patients to eat less and move more or, at the other end of the spectrum, refer them for weight-loss surgery than prescribe medication, he says. Smith is the founding scientific director of the Translational ...


New York Daily News

This Is What Weight Loss Does To Your Brain
TIME
The new study, which focused on people who underwent bariatric surgery, found that the procedure had positive effects on the brain, but other research has shown that less invasive weight loss strategies, like exercise, can also reverse brain damage ...
Weight loss has powerful effects on brain function: studyNew York Daily News
Bariatric Surgery Also Linked to Brain Benefits, Not Just Weight LossScience World Report
Weight-loss surgery can boost brain power and 'cut the risk of developing ...Daily Mail
Healio -Headlines & Global News -University Herald
all 28 news articles »

Weight loss surgery could boost brain power
Boston Globe
Weight-loss surgery may boost brain power among some obese women and lower their risk for Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study. Researchers in Brazil looked at the brain scans and blood test results of 17 obese women before they underwent ...
Scientists Have Discovered That Losing Weight Actually Transforms Your BrainMic

all 2 news articles »

TheHealthSite

Your no-calorie sweetener might be sabotaging your weight loss goals
TheHealthSite
Calorie drinks for weight loss A new study has revealed that no-calorie sweeteners may interfere with people's diet choices. For the study, researchers conducted three experiments in which 116 participants ages 18 to 25 were randomly given an unmarked ...

and more »
Google News

Ultimate Weight Loss: Fight Fat and Win

As if you needed another reason to hit the snooze... Read More

Gastric Bypass Surgery - What Are The Risks?

Although all of the risks involved in gastric bypass surgery... Read More

America Health Watch

America loves fast food. Last year, consumers spent billions of... Read More

Of Super Mice and Supermen- and the Magic Apples of Avalon

Recently, a Japanese study showed dramatic results of organ fat... Read More

Weight Gain = Poor Quality of Life

Gaining up to 20 pounds over four years can significantly... Read More

Compulsive Eating Signs

Compulsive eating is characterized mainly by periods of impulsive bingeing... Read More

Lose Body Fat by Choosing the Right Diet Plan For You

If you are overweight and searching for the diet program... Read More

Some Straight Talk About Low-Carbohydrates and Your Health

There have been many diets and weight loss plans that... Read More

Fad Diets, And Why Theyre Bad For Your Weight Loss And Long Term Health

If you're serious about losing weight and getting fit, you... Read More

Fidgeting: The Natural Weight Loss Diet

It's now official. The simple act of fidgeting can mean... Read More

Gastric Bypass Causes Hair Loss: Can It Be Avoided?

Surprisingly, hair loss is one of the reasons female pre-operative... Read More

Conspiracy Foods, The Inside Story about the Mass Produced Foods that are Making Society Sick

Food manufacturers can easily manipulate a whole population by the... Read More

The Low Carb Diet F.A.Q.

When most people think of low carb diets they automatically... Read More

Weight Loss Product Warnings -- How to Spot Fat Burning Diets

This is the second article in the series, Weight Loss... Read More

Protein - Its Place In Your Weight Loss Program

Any food that we take into our bodies is composed... Read More

Whats Really Behind the Milk Diet?

The purpose of this article is not to scrutinize, vilify,... Read More

Want to Succeed on Your Diet, Find a Diet Buddy

If you're like most people who tried losing weight on... Read More

How to Lose Belly Fat: Latest Secrets from the Research Labs, Part 1

In this series of articles, you will learn exactly how... Read More

The Missing Ingredient in Your Diet That is Keeping You Fat and Tired

Whenever I hear someone say they just can't lose weight,... Read More

Drink Beer AND Lose Weight

Want to shed that beer belly? Why not try the... Read More

A Full Scale War

It happens every morning when you mosey out of bed,... Read More

Pediatric Obesity and Vitamin Deficiency - Developments to Fight Future Disease

Obesity, especially in children, is a matter of rapidly growing... Read More

Weight Loss Woes

Weight loss is an issue that affects men and women... Read More

Diet and Weightloss -- Start Your New Year Off Right!

FINDING THE PERFECT DIETArriving at the Perfect Diet is no... Read More

Lose Fats - Gain Confidence when You Lose Weight

"How do I lose 5 kg or 30 kg?""How do... Read More