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Oct 16, 2006 04:51 PM

portion sizes

I've just come home from 5 days in the States( supposed to be 3, flew out of Buffalo!) Once again I was struck by the size of the portions you get in restaurants. I always thought I ate a lot, but I could not finish any one of my meals including breakfast!! In one place I ordered soup and garlic bread and they brought me bread to eat while I was waiting for my bread! When my meal came, it was about half a vienna loaf with garlic and cheese. In another place where I was having ribs with 2 sides, I also got 2 pieces of corn bread about 4"x3" each. Those became the next days breakfast. Don't get me wrong, Im no wimp when it comes to food, and it shows,but this is not healthy. I'm sure I'm not alone on this. Agree or disagree?

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  1. i can't imagine anyone would disagree with you. portion size in this country has become a major selling point, especially at chain restaurants; the more food you can pile on the plate, the more people you can bring in. the more processed cheese and meat you can cram in per square inch, the longer the line out the door is.

    of course, there's no rule that says you have to eat everything put in front of you, but since most people have no concept of what a reasonable portion is to begin with, we're just getting fatter and fatter. our collective cholesterol is through the roof and our collective fitness level is in the dumps. of course, i can't blame the restaurants completely; obviously people are buying it.

    although, i have seen similar overstuffed plates in canada, france, and england, but i don't think it's as much of a "way of life" in those places.

    regardless, it's really disgusting.

    9 Replies
    1. re: funkymonkey

      "i can't imagine anyone would disagree with you"

      You have to open your mind, set your imagination free.

      I absolutely disaggree that portion sizes are too large. Absolutely disagree.

      If they are so big, I would guess I am the only person who orders two appetizers, but I know I am not.

      Pasta dishes worst offenders? A side pasta comes in a little bowl or oval dish. Without much effort one could the eat the whole thing at once.

      I was out last night. I received 8 escargot as one appetizer, 5 ravioli as a pasta dish and an 8 oz tenderloin. That's a "disgusting" amount of food? The cheescake I had for dessert was the size of a cupcake. Across the way, someone had a tiramisu that had two, count'em 2, ladyfingers.

      Do me a favor, all of you who think it is too much - DON'T COMPLAIN to the restaurants.

      What are you guys trying to do? ruin it for the vast majority who plainly want their restaurants to serve portions as they serve them? Because you gotta believe that if a restaurant could make twice as much money selling the same amount of food to twice as many satisfied customers they would do it. Why wouldn't they?

      Let's see, I can sell ten pounds of pasta to 10 people for $100. Or I can sell ten pounds of pasta to 40 people for $400. I don't know....

      1. re: FrankJBN

        Maybe you live somewhere differently than those of us complaining. I don't know anywhere I could go to in my whole metropolitan area and order cheesecake and be served a piece the size of a cupcake - assuming "cupcake size" being the size of the little paper thingy you could bake it in with a little on top, not the gargantuan cupcakes they sell, for example, at Starbucks (for comparison's sake only).

        At the 2 italian places I regularly eat, one being a chain and one an indie, if you ordered ravioli you'd get at least 12 or 16 pieces. And the tiramisu at both places is about 6x6 and 4 inches high.

        1. re: FrankJBN

          Considering that the portion size for the protein should be 3-4 oz., max (size of a standard person's palm or a deck of cards), you had twice as much tenderloin as should have been served. 5 raviolis and 8 escargot would have been plenty for many people.

          And re: Pasta sizes - when a pasta dish is ordered as the main, it can be obscenely huge - sometimes up to a 1/3 lb. of pasta with additional protein added on top of it. One box of linguine or spaghetti should feed 6-8 people. But the way people have become used to having humongous portions, it would feed 4 in some families.

          Supersizing has become the norm in the U.S. thanks to fast food places. Some places are beginning to go the other way - readjusting the portion sizes and the prices so people aren't getting (and eating in one sitting) more than they need.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            I totally agree that portions are out of control. Ironically, the places I tend to be served a somewhat normal portion of food are the places that are much more upscale and expensive!
            A few times that I have ordered pasta dishes I have eaten my entree until I was comfortably full, brought the rest home and my husband and I have BOTH been able to eat dinner on the leftovers. That's kind of scary.

            1. re: SweetPea914

              If you like the food, though, then it's also a pretty good deal. 3 dinners for whatever you paid for the one entree.

              I see this issue as one of personal responsibility. Know how much you want/need to eat and order accordingly. Don't be afraid to ask how large the portions are. You did exactly what I think people should do. Pay attention to your body, eat what you like and take the rest home.

              1. re: ccbweb

                I totally agree. It irks me when people talk about suing McDonald's, etc. I crave McDonald's maybe once or twice a year. I usually haven't eaten all day and it's the low blood sugar talking or we're on the road and just need to grab something quick. However, I'll always order a Happy meal (I am 35, but this is what a portion of junk food should be) or I'm really "good" and order a grilled chicken sandwich and a salad. But sometimes you gotta have those fries!
                However, when dining out, it's not always convenient to take your leftovers home,and then I feel wasteful. Also, having just moved out of NYC I am finding that in the suburbs, the portions are MUCH bigger and the food generally lousy. I have an idea, give me half the portion, but make it decent food! But unfortunately restaurants make more money by giving you more mediocre food at a premium price.

                1. re: SweetPea914

                  I think the whole lawsuit thing is egregious and stupid. I just wish both customers AND restaurants would work to change this so you're not constantly having to take home leftovers. I think both customers and restaurants are at fault for the gigantic portions.

                  1. re: SweetPea914

                    I remember a time I ordered a Happy Meal in high school because that's the portion of food I usually ate. Everybody thought I was on a diet because I ordered a happy meal instead of getting a big mac with large fries, etc.

                  2. re: ccbweb

                    This is how I fed myself through college. Go to a restaurant, order, and split whatever comes out down the middle (or sometimes thirds). Much better than the dining hall!

          2. In my younger days, when I made some dumb decisions and would wake up with a bad hangover, my mother would say: "Well, you put it in your mouth". Same goes with food. If you care about your health and wellbeing, people need to learn to put the fork down.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chilehound

              you're absolutely right. and i think the main problem is that people don't usually see the link between their health and what they're putting in their mouths. and keeping people from making that connection is a multi-billion dollar business run by chain restaurants and snack-food makers. if apple-growers had a fraction of the budgets of mcdonald's or snickers, maybe people would think differently.

              and instead of learning to put the fork down, people figure they can always turn to things like the atkins diet or gastric bypass surgery.

              1. re: funkymonkey

                Its a ridiculous comment to think chain restaurants and snack-food makers are responsible for people's stupidity regarding food and overall health. Why blame yourself (the general you, not the poster above) for becoming obese when you can blame McDonalds or Burger King? Its about time we start blaming individual people rather than looking for a scapegoat. Unless of course big bad McDonald's strapped someone to a chair and force fed them double quarterpounders a couple of times a day.

                1. re: ESNY

                  i'm a big proponent of taking responsibility for what you eat. i think that sueing McDonald's because the fries made you fat is a load of bunk.

                  however, you can't disregard the fact that most school children have no idea what a potato fresh from the earth looks like, yet they know exactly the different between a large fries and a supersized order of fries. and those children grow up to be fat adults. and it's way easier for those adults to point the finger at the restaurants and the snack food makers than to start eating sensibly themselves. i'm not condoning this, i just think this is the current mindset of america.

                  and i do think it all comes down to money. mcdonald's spends more money marketing burgers than Dole does on its fruit.

            2. Agreed. McDonalds has tried unsuccessfully in the past to introduce healthier fare, but nobody buys it so they discontinue those things. The dinner salads are doing okay though, supposedly, but it will never supplant le Big Mac.

              Businesses sell what people buy and if people only want to buy crap and lots of it, you can't blame McD's for caving into that demand because if they don't someone else will.

              1. What bothers me is the complete waste of food. I had a chicken breast salad out and it came with two huge chicken breasts at least 5 times as much as a serving should be. I didn't go home after so I couldn't take it to go. It barely looked like I touched the meal at the end and I ate a lot! It just goes in the trash. How much food is wasted because of overly huge servings? It's such a huge, unnecessary waste of resources. One reason I love tasting menus. This probably drives the server crazy but I will tell them not to bring things I know I won't eat and I've asked them to make the servings smaller (like ordering ice cream cones for my kids--I always tell them to make it half the size). I don't care if I pay the same, I hate the waste.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chowser

                  I really admire you for saying you don't care if you pay the same for less food. It's so easy to fool yourself into thinking you should eat everyting you paid for.

                  I'm trying to do this in my own life--not stuff myself silly, even if I have to throw food in the trash. I have to keep telling myself it's not "waste," because I'll be paid back in good health for not finishing the whole plate of fries. And if it saves me thousands of dollars in health bills and time and agony in the hospital down the line, it's totally worth the couple dollars "wasted."

                  I do try to keep food for leftovers or to give clean leftovers to homeless people, but neither of those is always possible.

                  1. re: Pei

                    I do get weird looks sometimes when I ask for less.;-) I hate waste, not the throwing it away part, as much as throwing away the resources it took to produce the food and bring it to the table. You're right about savings in your health. I actually have more problems throwing away broccoli than french fries.

                2. I am also appauled at portion sizes. While I personally have always left food on my plate I cringe when I see those around me stuffing every little bite in when I know they are not possibly hungry. I have always been more than happy to pay for what they serve, then split it in half and only eat until I feel satisfied. I think that the majority of people do not even think about what they are putting into their mouths and just mindlessly eat because it is there. I have even gone so far as to order and request that 1/2 of the meal be put in a to go bag before it is brought to the table.
                  Still there is no easy solution to this problem because people feel like they have to get value out of everything even if it is at the expense of their health.