Public health experts believe up-sizing everything from food to beverages has been a major contributor to our nation’s obesity epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15%. Today, there are 41 states with obesity rates over 38%, with Tennessee being one of those states. Since 1980, the rate of obesity in children and adolescents has almost tripled. If obesity rates stay consistent, 51% of the population will be obese by 2030 notes The Campaign to End Obesity.
Big servings are not going away any time soon, but you don’t have to buy into the portion distortion mantra that has become the new normal. Scale back your portion size when having that occasional fast-food indulgence using these five tips provided by Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., R.D., and author of The Portion Teller Plan:
1. Steer clear of super-sized meals. Even a medium-size portion is bigger than ever, so share it with a friend.
2. Eat half your order. Save the rest and enjoy it another day.
3. Have a bottle of water instead of a sugary beverage.
4. Order a side salad or fruit with your meal, instead of fries.
5. Savor your food and eat slowly. This will help you eat less at each meal. By consuming just 200 fewer calories a day, you’ll be on track to shed 20 pounds in one year!
Recent research reveals that Americans spend nearly half of their annual food budget eating out. And, 96% of restaurant meals exceed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendations for overall calories, added sugar, as well as fat and sodium.
Super-Sized Food and Drinks
In the past few years, popular fast-food chains have competed again each other by introducing 1,000- calorie-plus sandwiches with 12 ounces of beef — the amount of meat recommended for two days for most adults. These same restaurants up-sized portions for French fries, resulting in an increase from roughly 210 calories 40 years ago to between 600-1,000 calories today for a single serving.
Likewise, fast food drink sizes have grown from an average of 7 ounces for a small to 12 ounces. Most recently, we’ve seen an introduction of 42-ounce sodas that have 410 calories, and even 64-ounce sodas, the equivalent of a half-gallon with nearly 800 calories.
Proceed with Caution
Today, one fast food run for a burger, fry, and extra-large soda can result in more than 2,000 calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends men consume 2,500 calories per day. For women, the recommendation is 1,800 calories.
These bigger-size meals are often portrayed as a better value and prompt people to order more food than is needed to produce energy for the body. Science tells us that people tend to eat what is in front of them and often underestimate how many calories are being consumed at each meal.
With all this said, I want to be clear that fast food is not the enemy. Many on-the-go restaurants have added premium salads, grilled chicken and sides of fresh fruit — all of which make for healthy selections. But, for all the healthier menu items, portion bloat is bigger than ever.
Health and fitness guru Jack LaLanne has been credited with coining the phrase, “eat to live, don’t live to eat,” meaning that we should eat with function and purpose in mind, not with enthusiasm and anticipation of flavors and textures that we enjoy.
While living to eat involves constant thoughts about food, eating to live is only feeding the body when it needs fuel. Healthy diets are about moderation, so you can have your cake and eat it too.
Healthy Kingsport is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a community that actively embraces healthy living by promoting wellness, enhancing infrastructure and influencing policy. Visit our Facebook page, like us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter for educational videos and posts to live a healthier lifestyle. Aiesha Edwards is the Executive Director of Healthy Kingsport. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Desteny Clemons is the Program Coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com.
To learn more about health and wellness in the community, join us at the 5th Annual Walk for Wellness Expo on April 23, 2022, at the Lynn View Community Center. This is a Free event! Register today and receive a free T-shirt. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2021–