Dinner plateAmericans live in a super-sized nation and it is continuing to grow.  In 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  reported no state had less than 20% residents obese and twelve had 30% or greater of  its population obese. Today one out of three U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese and approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are considered obese.

Only 75+ years ago this country was in a great depression. Families depended on ration stamps and had limited food to survive. Although hunger still affects many citizens most families are faced with five different sizes of French fries, fourteen inch dinner plates and are rewarded with a discount when purchasing a super-sized meal.

Dinner plateIt is no secret that portions, as well as waistlines have expanded. The American Journal for Clinical Nutrition suggest between 1970 and 2000 supermarket portion sizes increased 10 times. Restaurants’ jumbo-sized portions are now 250 percent larger than the appropriate size (Schwartz & Byrd-Bredbenner, 2006). Dinner plates have increased 36 percent in surface area since 1960 from an average of 9 inches to 12 inches (Wansink, 2006). Larger dinner ware has led to improper portion sizes in and away from the home.

The problem is not always what is on the plate but how much. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines, urge Americans to pay special attention to portion sizes. Learn a few simple tricks to beat portion distortion.

  • Downsize your dinnerware. Eat from salad plates and drink from smaller glasses.
  • Purchases single serving snacks.  Or portion out snacks before eating.
  • Leave serving dishes on the stove. Minimize the temptation of second helpings.
  • Out of sight, out of mind.  Get rid of the candy dish, or better yet, replace it with a fruit bowl.

Rebecca A. Turner, MS, RD, LD