Thursday, July 28, 2011

Portion Distortion

I don’t eat out much because I enjoy cooking and I like knowing what’s in my food; however tonight, I met a friend for a lovely meal of sushi. We shared the plate in the picture and each had a small bowl of miso soup. When we were finished, we both agreed that it was a perfect amount of food, we were perfectly satisfied, and felt great.

When I got home, I picked up a recent issue of Nutrition Action from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and there was an article entitled Extreme Eating 2011, which described some of the menu items served in some of the more popular restaurants in the country. Not only could these dishes be shared with a friend, they should be split among large families; or better yet avoided altogether. Here are a few of them.

The Cheesecake Factory’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake - I absolutely love the atmosphere at the Cheesecake Factory and I enjoy their seared tuna salad. However, their Red Velvet Cheesecake, is made from two layers of red velvet cake, two layers of cheesecake, cream cheese frosting, shaved chocolate, and a tower of whipped cream - all for 1,540 calories and 59 grams of fat. This is equivalent to a half gallon of ice cream.

IHOP’s Monster Bacon ‘N Beef Cheeseburger - This sandwich includes two beef and bacon patties (the bacon is chopped up and mixed right into the ground beef), American and provolone cheese on a Romano-Parmesan bun. It weighs in at 1,250 calories, 42 grams of saturated fat and 1,590 milligrams of sodium.

Applebee’s Provolone-stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine - The provolone-stuffed meatballs are simmered in a marinara sauce and served over fettuccine in a cream sauce. This hearty meal clocks in at 1,520 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat, and 3,700 milligrams of sodium.

I could go on, but I won’t and here are a few points I would like to make about menu items like these:

I don’t necessarily mean to single out any restaurants or any one particular menu item. But these are examples of what is commonly found across the country and what I find fascinating is that even when people know the nutrition information for a meal, it’s been found that it often has little influence over people’s decisions.

  • Just because these restaurants are serving enormous portion sizes, it doesn’t mean we are obligated to eat them.
  • We need to be aware that yes, these ARE enormous portions sizes and they are not meant to be eaten by one person in a single sitting.
  • These examples above all lack fruit and vegetables, i.e., fiber, minerals, phytonutrients/antioxidants.

All the more reason that cooking your own meals is a great way to stay healthy because you can use healthier ingredients, you can better control portion sizes, and you probably wouldn’t eat as much.

What are some of the struggles you face when you eat out? Please share them here.

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