Large Portions Everywhere Make Dieting Harder

My girls and I were out shopping late one evening a while ago and we passed by a yogurt shop. We decided to go in and have a little dessert.

They had the usual flavors: Chocolate, vanilla, peach, blueberry, strawberry, coconut, etc. While we were standing there looking at the flavor selection, the manager of the store came over to us to explain how the process worked.

“You select a size, fill it with however much yogurt you want, add whatever toppings you want from the topping bar and pay for the cups by weight,” he explained. I nodded and looked around for the cups. To my shock, this was a small cup.

Huge Yogurt Cups

Yogurt cups as big as your head make portion control difficult.

“Wow,” I said to the manager, “That cup is huge.”  

He grinned, a little bit sheepishly, and said it was kinda large. I asked him how much it held if you were to fill it up. He said it would hold about 16 ounces.

16 ounces of frozen yogurt is a LOT more yogurt than anyone needs.

My girls and I put a bit of yogurt in our cups and each chose a topping. In case you were wondering, I choose low-fat chocolate, of course.

Here’s a picture of my girls eating theirs. You can see that their cups look basically empty – because they were. None of us could imagine eating that huge cup full of yogurt. We’d be totally sick.

Girls with self-serve yogurt cups

I thought to myself that it is no wonder that so many of us have a hard time with portion control. Huge portions are everywhere – from yogurt shops to sit down restaurants. I believe that over time we all get desensitized to how large the portions available to us actually are and have a hard time judging what is and is not appropriate.

I do not eat out a lot, but when I do I am continually shocked by how much food the server brings out. Mayor Bloomberg in New York tried to outlaw drinks larger than 16 ounces, and while I do not think we need regulation in every area of our lives, his suggestion did make you think about the craziness of 44 ounce drinks, or frozen yogurt containers as big as your head.

Do you think that the portion sizes make it harder to maintain or lose weight? Do you have an example of a bigger-than-life portion experience to share? Diane

6 thoughts on “Large Portions Everywhere Make Dieting Harder

  1. Jennifer Farley says:

    Portions when I’m dining out always surprise me, yet I usually find myself finishing everything if it’s good. I know when it comes to weight loss, portion control is my #1 issue. When I see my husband going for a 2nd helping of dinner at home, or when I’m at a restaurant and everyone continues to eat, I find myself mindlessly following along. I feel weird not ordering dessert if everyone else is having one. I sincerely wish there were more restaurants that served reasonable portions. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them economically?

    We have a restaurant near us called Seasons 52 that pride themselves on serving portions under 400 calories but every time I go they push appetizers and desserts on us. It’s difficult to say no in the moment.

  2. PaulaMP says:

    If you compare portions to the 70s you can definitely see they have probably quadrupled. As have many of the people.

  3. Kitty says:

    Yes, it makes it more difficult. This is a another thing that I think is part of our disordered industrial food system. It is relatively cheap for a restaurant or food shop to serve larger portions and most people see them as more valuable than a smaller portion only a tiny bit less in cost. And, people tend to eat what they are served. Even worse, people get conditioned to thinking that an 8 ounce steak (or larger!) is what a serving of meat should be. And, so they end up eating more at home because they have become conditioned to having more of everything. When I was a child my parents let me have a Coke every day. But– it was a 6 1/2 oz. Coke which was the “normal” size then. An occasional treat was to have a 10 oz. King Size Coke. Those are a far cry from going into the convenience store and buying a 64 ounce drink!

    One reason I advocate eating at home the vast majority of the time, is to try to not become so conditioned to the large sizes you get when you eat anywhere else.

  4. Martha G says:

    I go to Peachwave and never get more than 4 or 5 oz and that is hard to do since the yogurt comes out pretty fast! Portion sizes are crazy and that’s one reason why I don’t go out to eat all that much. Usually can bring home half of the entree or we split an entree or get a salad and appetizer. Fortunately restaurants are pretty accommodating to us splitting or ordering appetizers.

    One thing I have noticed since the recession hit was restaurants didn’t want to raise prices, so they downsized portions which is great. Still too big, but at least better.

  5. Leah @ goodnight cheese says:

    Definitely! And then you go to a fancy restaurant where they might actually give you a more reasonable portion, and it looks so tiny.

    On the other hand, the serving size on most packaged food is completely ridiculous. Two servings in a bottle of snapple or a candy bar! How many people who buy those things are sharing?

  6. Marleen says:

    I believe in Europe the portions are smaller, McDonalds and friends are on the huge side here in Holland, qua serving. But during familydinners, the serving is sometimes hard to manage. Espessialy because we like desserts a lot too. But summer, with its lovely homegrown salades is coming.
    Or maybe that’s part of the problem? The lowcalory cucumber and lettuce salades can be served twice, but pastasalades with lots of oil and cheese should not. Maybe overall portion control should be best for maintaining a healthy weight?

    At the blog of Yoni Freedhoff, Weighty Matters I found an Australian film about serving size and his comments on it.

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