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:


Weight-Loss Superfood: 6 Tips for a Healthy Gut
Live Science
Over the years, I've noticed that clients who added a certain item to their diet seemed more likely to lose weight. And this happened even when their calorie intake remained the same. What is this superfood? It's nothing weird, and it's not a ...

and more »

NPR (blog)

Banned Drugs Still Turning Up In Weight-Loss Supplements
NPR (blog)
Americans spend about $4 billion a year on weight-loss supplements. And the Food and Drug Administration spends a lot of effort policing distributors who market fraudulent products that are tainted with unsafe, banned drugs. But a study published ...

and more »

Lifehacker

Add Public Transportation to Your Weight Loss Plans
Lifehacker
Finding time to exercise is tough. You can squeeze in some extra calorie burning by skipping the car and taking public transportation instead. It isn't the same as going for a run, but a recent study suggests taking the bus or train could still make a ...


Yahoo Health

A Weight Loss Belief Is Tested
New York Times (blog)
Many people believe that weight lost quickly is quickly regained, and there are some studies that suggest this may be true. But a new randomized trial has found no long-term difference in weight regain among people who lost pounds slowly and those who ...
In Defense of Fast Weight LossYahoo Health
Slow and steady may not win the weight-loss racewwlp.com
Gradual weight loss no better than rapid weight loss for long-term weight controlProHealth
HCPLive -MinnPost
all 17 news articles »

DailyFinance

FTC Bans Diet Pill Seller from the Weight-Loss Business
DailyFinance
Weight Loss. kurhan/Shutterstock The maker of a line of diet supplements sold at the nation's largest pharmacies with the false promise that the pills would magically make users slender (they didn't) was banned -- at least, for now -- from selling ...
FTC Approves Final Orders Banning Marketer Behind 'Fat Burner' Diet Pills From ...Yumanewsnow

all 2 news articles »

Long-term Effects of Rapid Weight Loss vs. Gradual Weight Loss
Diabetes In Control
Most of the guidelines suggest that patients should lose weight gradually as opposed to rapidly losing weight, indicating that patients who had rapid weight loss are more likely to regain the weight. This study looked at effect of the rate of weight ...


The Inquisitr

Permanent Weight Loss Adds Years To Life - Proven Ways To Help Take It Off ...
The Inquisitr
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) claims that healthy weight loss is not a diet – it is a lifestyle. Setting a realistic goal – such as losing one to two pounds per week – is critical to a successful weight loss program. Crash diets don't seem to ...


International Business Times

Green coffee beans for weight loss? Um, never mind
Los Angeles Times
News of the supplement's alleged promise prompted Oz, on his show, to hail green coffee beans as a "miracle" aid to weight loss. In the weeks that followed, supplement manufacturers used video of Oz's seeming endorsement to boost sales, the FTC inquiry ...
Researchers retract bogus, Dr. Oz-touted study on green coffee bean weight ...Washington Post
Authors Of The Last Study Backing Dr. Oz's 'Magic Weight Loss Cure' Retract ...Huffington Post
Dr. Oz Green Coffee Bean Study Retracted: Latest Weight Loss Miracle Gets ...International Business Times
The Inquisitr -Tech Times
all 82 news articles »

TheHealthSite

Scientists discover how our body regulates weight loss
TheHealthSite
Weight loss is a constant concern for many and scientists too are on a lookout to find out ways can help us do so. A hormone seen as a popular target to develop weight loss drugs works by directly targeting the brain and triggering previously unknown ...
Weight Loss Hormone Activates Brain Pathways That Instruct Body To Burn Fat ...Medical Daily
Scientists discover new clues to how weight loss is regulatedHealthCanal.com
How body regulates weight lossZee News

all 18 news articles »

Classicalite

2014 'KUWTK' Rob Kardashian Weight Loss UPDATE After Fat Lovechild Lie ...
Classicalite
It's time for another update in the 2014 weight loss of Keeping Up with the Kardashians star Rob Kardashian. This latest report comes after the reality star claimed to have a lovechild, only to later admit that it was a big fat lie. Some are suggesting ...

Google News

Holiday Wearing A Weight Loss Halo

You may have read the old stories about how much... Read More

To Lose Weight, Feed Your Brains

When was the last time you focused so much on... Read More

Psychological Factors in Weight Management

To continue the educational series on your health and fitness... Read More

Making the Food Pyramid Work After Weight Loss Surgery

A "normal-tummy" looks at the food pyramid from the bottom... Read More

Learn The Basics Of Weight Loss

Have you been surfing the web trying to find a... Read More

Is Low-Carb Really The Way To Go?

The latest trend in the area of weight loss is... Read More

A Startling Fact About Losing Dangerous Belly Fat -- Without Exercise

The story broke in the international press on October 4th,... Read More

Lose Weight and Burn Fat with One Simple Eating Principle

Fifteen years ago the doctor's suggested that we eat pasta... Read More

Weight-loss Tip: Add Extra Calcium to a Low-Fat Diet

Got milk? New research suggests you should if you want... Read More

Just the Cold Hard Facts About Diets, Weight Loss, Exercise and Losing Fat

This is a layman marketer's observations on diets and weight... Read More

Are Your Co-Workers Making You Fat? Avoiding Unexpected Treats

Taming the See Food Eat Food ResponseWhat happens when you're... Read More

Three Easy Ways To Prevent and Suppress Cravings on a Low Carb Diet

If you've been on a low carb diet for any... Read More

Learning How to Become a Good Loser

The Quest to Reach Your Ideal WeightIt was late in... Read More

3 Secrets Your Diet Book Wont Tell You

Are you wondering why you're not losing weight? If you're... Read More

Fitness through Exercise for Life ? Principles that Keep You Going for Life!

ATTITUDESIT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!Exercising has so many physical benefits that... Read More

The Simplest Diet Plan Ever - 3 Easy Steps to Healthy Living

You've heard the popular advice on weight loss diets. Cut... Read More

Top 10 Diet Tips From Diet Winners

Use these tips to turbo charge your weight loss program.Take... Read More

Myth: Gastric Bypass Patients Can Never Be Nutritionally Healthy

A common claim from gastric bypass detractors is that after... Read More

Planning Your Diet

We have plans for everything these days. That is how... Read More

Coconut Oil Diets

Have you heard about coconut oil diets yet? People are... Read More

The Miraculous Claims of the Zone Diet

One way of recognizing a fad diet is... Read More

One Change Can Make All The Difference

Ever wondered why some people manage to keep their weight... Read More

Fighting Obesity - My Pyramid Dietary Guidelines

If you are fighting the battle of the bulge (overweight... Read More

Is Your Goal Really Weight Loss?

Are you ashamed of your weight? Do you have a... Read More

Five Healthy Weight Loss Tips Revealed

Are you tired of getting the same old advice when... Read More