National Nutrition Month initiated by the ADA (American Dietetic Association) in 1973 as a week-long event, morphed into a month long observance by 1980. Their campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices, as well as cultivating sound eating and physical activity habits. What about portion distortion?
The ADA’s theme for this year is Nutrition From The Ground Up. I recommend spending some time on their website. Great content! A recommended reading list, as well as educational resources covering off on a range of nutrition and lifestyle topics, interactive games (e.g., Nutrition Sudoku), quizzes, promotional ideas, etc. A majority of these materials are also available in Spanish. Good thinking!
In spite of this wealth of great information, there was minimal reference about portion sizes which is now one of the driving forces behind more reliable nutritional labeling being championed by the FDA. It is called portion distortion. Portion size is the amount of food served in a single eating occasion (meal or snack). Serving size is the standardized unit of measuring foods established by the FDA. The FDA is now considering updating the serving sizes listed on nutritional labels in recognition that their portion control recommendations are outdated. One example would be potato chips – a serving size is one ounce or six chips. How many servings did you eat during the Super Bowl? Muffins are usually sold in sizes that constitute two servings. Do you only eat half a muffin with your coffee?
The restaurant industry, despite its attempt to become more responsible by posting nutritionals, tend to offer large or super size portions. Large portions communicate value – value drives customer traffic. Think about the last time you ate a steak in a restaurant. What was its portion size or the size of the bake potato that accompanied it? In my last blog I referenced pizza. A good industry friend Nick Sarillo, founder and owner of Nick's Pizza & Pub challenged my pizza example. He shared with me the nutritionals of Nick’s 14” Cheese pizza: only 240 calories, 80 calories from fat for one slice and then commented: “The point needs to be over consumption and lack of a balanced diet. The point could be made about almost any food group over done is going to be unhealthy in some way.”
Caloric intake (calories in, calories out) is integral to weight management. Beware of Portion Distortion.
Oh by the way, for anyone living in or visiting Chicago, I suggest you go to Nick’s Pizza & Pub. I bet you cannot stop at one slice. His pizza is that good.