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U.S. Food Portions: Monuments to Decadence?

food, portions, rations, food crisis, waist line, finances, healthy eating, home cooking, caloriesWith soaring food prices sparking protests in many countries, and more than 800 million people going hungry every day worldwide, U.S. food portions are under scrutiny.

Portion sizes in the United States not only exceed those in less-developed countries, but also in the developed world. Americans have the highest per capita daily consumption in the world, eating 3,770 calories a day.

One fast-food chain calls its massive burger a "monument to decadence".

"We've looked at large portion sizes almost entirely in terms of whether it's healthy for us, and now we have to consider is that sort of a demand going to be sustainable," said Paul Roberts, author of The End of Food. "It would probably be a way to take pressure off of grain markets if we somehow convinced people to take smaller portion sizes."

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Although this Reuters article was trying to connect smaller portion sizes with being able to lessen the current worldwide food crisis -- which I’ve written about on several occasions already -- I believe we should really focus on reducing American portion sizes for pure health reasons.  Maybe it will help lessen the impact of rising food prices around the world, maybe not.  

But eating less could do wonders for the health of most people reading this. 

Mini-Size Me!

Morgan Spurlock’s documentary film, Supersize Me, should be a mandatory film for all children and their parents to see. Prior to his experiment, Spurlock was a highly fit and athletic individual weighing 185 pounds. He went on a McDonald's diet, gained 25 pounds, and looked and felt absolutely terrible. It is truly amazing to SEE what massive amounts of trans fat and 31 pounds of sugar will do to you in just one month.

He ended up suffering from many health complaints I see every day such as fatigue, headaches and indigestion. His cholesterol levels were high and he suffered from uric acid and mild chemical hepatitis. Before his 30 days were even over, his doctor urged him to cancel his experiment because his health was deteriorating so rapidly and getting flat out dangerous.

Not only does eating fast food expose you to addictive sugar and dangerous trans fats, but it also gives you more calories than you may think. As stated in this article, the average American consumes an amazing 3,770 calories a day!

Listen folks, unless you’re in daily training for the Olympics, in three separate events, the only thing this amount of calories will accomplish is rapidly deteriorating health.

The problem with “supersizing” is that the larger a meal gets, the harder it becomes to estimate how many calories are involved (not to mention that when you eat out, you don't know how the meal is prepared, or with what ingredients, which adds to the difficulty).

Super-sizing -- whether from a fast food or slower food restaurant – simply tempts you to spend more money on extra calories you don't need.

Eat What You Need, Not What You’re Served

Previous studies have shown that it actually takes you longer to reach fullness or satiety when you’re served a larger than normal portion of food, and young children consume about 25 percent less when allowed to help themselves to what they want than when served.

In one survey, 67 percent of participants said that they finish their entrees when eating out all or most of the time. As many restaurants serve very large portions, it’s no wonder studies have also found a link between body weight and frequency of consuming meals from restaurants.

Always use your hunger as a guide, rather than deciding how much to eat based on what’s on your plate. And, as I’ll discuss in just a moment, your hunger may in fact be a major clue that you’re eating not only the wrong types of food, but that you’re likely consuming them in lopsided ratios for your individual biochemistry.

“What’s Cooking?”

Right now, about 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward highly processed foods.  This is a prescription for chronic degenerative disease; most Americans are simply exchanging convenience for their health.If you choose to rely on restaurant food for most of your meals, you are simply cutting off decades from your lifespan and increasing the likelihood of having to rely on expensive and potentially toxic drugs to treat the symptoms that will result from not eating healthy.

So you either pay now or wind up paying later, at which point it will typically be far more painful and expensive.

You, a family member, or someone you pay, simply has to spend time in the kitchen cooking fresh wholesome meals if you have any hope of staying healthy. Like many people, I have very little "free time" in my life, but still I am committed to preparing over 95 percent of my meals in order to preserve my health. It is a commitment, a truly important one, and it CAN be done.

Rather than have 90 percent of your food as processed, set a goal to reverse that ratio and strive for a diet of 90 percent non-processed food and only 10 percent from other sources. Not only will you enjoy numerous health benefits, but you will gain the satisfaction of preparing meals and being able to control the ingredients.

Yes, it takes more time and energy to follow an individualized nutrition plan than to eat fast food, but doing so could:

  • Add years to your lifespan
  • Give you more energy than you know what to do with
  • Help you avoid cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis

It’s all in the Ratios of Your Rations

The beauty of eating according to your nutritional type, which is based on your personal biochemistry, is that your food cravings will dissipate, making reducing the sizes of your portions that much easier. You can split your meals into five or six smaller portions, and still be far less hungry than you ever were before because your body is finally getting the fuel it needs to thrive.

If you are having food cravings and “can’t stop eating,” then you likely need to readjust your food choices as discussed in my book Take Control of Your Health.

Typically this involves shifting the ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, once you have determined what types of food your body is designed to eat. Optimal health may actually have less to do with the type of food you are eating, but with the relative percentage of each food you consume.

+ Sources and References