Portions: We eat too much, and we exercise too little. It isn’t nuclear physics, is it?


It also wouldn’t hurt to cut back on the deep fryer, and stuff a few bits of fruit and vegetables into your pie hole. However, as a recovering trencherman, I know all too well that it isn’t easy. Long before I drank alcohol, eating was my stress reliever. Nowadays my aim is to judiciously balance food and drink in their recreational senses.

There are good days, and there was yesterday …

Our gigantic problem with portions: why are we all eating too much?, by Bee Wilson, Jay Rayner, Tamal Ray and Gizzi Erskine (The Guardian)

… In a world where food is ever-present, many of us have become like Alice in Wonderland, controlled by cakes that say Eat Me and bottles that say Drink Me. As the nutritionist Marion Nestle remarked 10 years ago in her book, What to Eat: “It is human nature to eat when presented with food, and to eat more when presented with more food.” The trouble is that we are pushed more food, more often, every day. In 2013, the British Heart Foundation published a report called Portion Distortion on how portion sizes in Britain have changed since 1993.

Back then, the average American-style muffin weighed 85g, whereas 20 years later it was not uncommon to find muffins weighing 130g. Ready meals have also ballooned in size, with chicken pies expanding by 49% and the average shepherd’s pie nearly doubling in size since 1993 (from 210g to 400g). To overeat in such an environment may be less about lacking willpower than being set in your ways. Food psychologists talk about “unit bias” meaning that we are inclined to think that a portion equals one of something, no matter what the size. Even when it’s the 2,000-calorie single slice of pizza that nutritionists managed to buy in New York City: a whole day’s worth of calories in a single snack.