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Portion Distortion: How Food Labels May Be Derailing Your Diet

Jul 30, 2013 - 19 comments

food labels










food portions


eat small portions

Portion control is a key step to maintaining a healthy weight. But if you’re like the majority of working Americans, a busy schedule often means grabbing a fast, not-so-healthy lunch on the go — and many of these grab-and-go options carry multiple servings in a single package. If you’re not careful, you may eat two or three servings in one sitting without realizing it.

This is because our idea of proper portion sizes is often distorted by labels, according to 2013 study from Cornell University. To measure the impact labels have on our eating habits, researchers served two different portion sizes of spaghetti to participants — one cup (small) or two cups (large). For some, the small portion was labeled “half-size” and the large portion was labeled “regular,” giving participants the impression that the larger portion was the normal size. For the others, the same portions were labeled "regular" for the small and "double-size” for the large, leading participants to believe that the smaller portion was the norm.

Despite actual portion sizes, participants ate up to 10 times more when the larger portion was labeled "regular" than when it was labeled "double-size.” Through a similar experiment, the same researchers also determined that people are willing to pay more for food with a label that makes the portion sound larger than it actually is — proof that misguided labels not only put a damper on our healthy eating goals, but they put a dent in our wallets as well.

Even though portion sizes are growing — especially with high-calorie foods like French fries or soft drinks — your waistline doesn’t have to. Take control over the amount of food you eat. Here are a few tips to help you manage your portions:

• Put it in a doggy bag: When eating out, split your meal with a friend or ask the waiter to put half of your meal in a       to-go box as soon as your food arrives.  
• Eat slowly: If you tend to eat quickly, your brain may not get the message that it’s full until it’s too late. Savor your food, eat slowly and pay closer attention to feelings of fullness.
• Stash your snacks: When you’re craving a snack, avoid mindless munching by putting a single serving in a separate container or bowl, rather than eating straight out of the package.
• Snack smart: Eat a light (healthy) snack, like almonds or carrot sticks, in between meals to help you avoid overeating or choosing a less healthy option at mealtime.
• Measure it out: When there is no label to help guide you, use your hand or another everyday object as a    measuring   tool to help you determine proper serving sizes. For example, one serving of meat or poultry is about the size of your hand or a deck of cards, and half a cup of veggies is about the same size as half a baseball.
• Use smaller plates: Using a smaller plate gives the illusion of more food, helping you eat less.

Keep your healthy eating goals on track with our free calorie counter and weight loss app, My Diet Diary! Download it today:

How do you control your food portions? Please share your advice and comments!

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Avatar universal
by syne12, Aug 05, 2013
I have trained my self stay away from white sugar and white bread , and a handful is enough :)

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by worriedmom52408, Aug 10, 2013
that's the whole thing I don't eat any sugar or whit bread and really don't eat but once a day and I have to make myself eat then

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by dairydale, Aug 21, 2013
HEP C, fibrosure/hepascore results came in , with 1.000 forTM calc and metavir  score is F2-F4, Genotype is 1a.what exactly does that place  me as far as the plce i am at ,my doctor says i can wait until dec when new drug to replace interferon is out . she says i am healthy enough

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by crzyallday, Aug 30, 2013
It is necessary to eat whether I want to or not.  My meds have taken away most of my appetite but I've read over and over that meals or snacks spaced out during the day keeps the metabolism raised.  The only thing skipping a meal or snack does is slow the metabolism down hence causing weight gain.  I do much better when I eat every 2or3 hours.  I've found that skipping breakfast means that I will eat more at the next meal.  Even if it's just a carrot or a boiled egg, that will keep the metabolism raised.  Also found that it's necessary to drink the 8 glasses of water a day that all the experts say is needed.  Personally drink 60 oz.  Physically feel better and helps my emotional state.  

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by Krazykaren989, Sep 18, 2013
I already do all of the above.  I do not eat much at all.  do not need any portion control as I have such restriction with sodium and my false teeth do not , and will never, fit properly, due to sever bone loss in my lower jaw, and makes chewing just about anything difficutl and cannot bite "into" anything!  so all of the above keeps my weight down, I only gain due to sodium intake or not having bm for a week or longer.  due to memory loss and forgetfulness and being distracted, and my time loss, ours at a time, I do not stay on track of when I had a bm.  I just made a bm calendar and put it in all my bathrooms so I can keep track of the day I had one, attached apencil to it as well.  hopefully, this will help.

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by rubyred527, Nov 15, 2013
you should have a bm every time you eat.

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by Fitmaltesemom, Apr 29, 2014
I have been working out for a very long time and I eat six meals a day. All very small meals:)
I drink plenty of water and have maintained my weight for years. I do very little cardio, its all about lifting weights and being consistent with good eating habits.

Avatar universal
by barbiegirl123, May 05, 2014

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by BubblyQueen_95, Jun 10, 2014
I'm starting to learn how to control my portion sizes and exercise more. I can't afford to get diabetes, especially since my father had it- I'm at risk.

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by wordupministry, Jun 20, 2014
what are some good high protein food that one can eat throughout the day especially if you are working out.

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by 5skid, Jun 20, 2014
fruits and vegetables..

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by AngelicNurse, Jul 16, 2014
What is the best way to wean off sugar, candy, pop / coke.  I eat. A lot of yougart and snack on Special K chips. I have 2 cokes a day and crave chocolate.

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by siwells48, Aug 20, 2014
When I was crashing every morning about 10 a.m. with hypoglycemia, the dr. tried given me Metformin thinking it would help balance the glucose that I took in to where it would be at a constant level and not highs and lows.  All that did was make my episodes twice as bad.....if that were possible.

I kept going on and having them every morning about 10 a.m. and I had added meat with my toast for breakfast and I didn't know a change.

My sister was a nurse for an Endocrinologist in another state and she finally told him my woes....he told her to ask me if I was using artificial sweetners instead of sugar.  I told her that I had not had a grain of sugar in my house other then to bake cakes and cookies, etc...never for my benefit, but I did use artificial sweetners to sweeten my morning coffee and any tea I drank.  He told her to tell me to stop that immediately and that I should be able to use a spoon of table sugar in my coffee without problems.  So I tried his trick and it sure helped!  He had told her to explain to me that artificial sweeteners generally fool the body into thinking it has just gotten a large dose of glucose and so it sends out a lot of insulin to cover it and this is where hypoglycemic had to watch these things.

Also I found out, when I wasn't eating sweet things like candy, cakes, cookies, etc and getting enough sugar from fresh fruit, that I didn't crave sweet things.  But as soon as I allowed myself to start eating those sugar things then I wanted more and more and more......this is just the curse of our appetities and often how we've been raised!

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by okooloyun, Jul 04, 2015
is white sugar this armful

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by seflor, Jul 17, 2015
I have known most of this for years,just needed a reminder. I do something called the stop here diet.I put the proper proportions on my plate,but if I start to feel full, I stop,put the rest away for later or another day. It helps when eating out with others.You get larger portions sometimes even if you ask for smaller ones and everyone is eating away. You eat slowly like you should anyway,but when you feel full,STOP HERE! Ask for a doggie bag,sit back and relax,watching others fill up until they are groaning,all the while asking you, "why don't you eat some more?"  I just smile and say "I'm Fine Thanx."  I didn't know about the people who ate 10x's more when the large item was marked regular.That is amazing!  I heard about the stop here diet years ago. Hope it starts getting popular again. I have been ill and unable to cook for myself. I received meals from an agency,and it was full of things I would never eaten,but sometimes we eat and be thankful for what we have,even if it means some temporary weight gain. Then we reach out for help and start over like I am doing now. Thanx and God Bless.    ps to okooloyun,YES, white sugar is harmfull unless you use a bit to sweeten your tea in A.M.   But try Honey,hard to get used to,but better 4 U.

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by TrishaHicks, Aug 24, 2015
Eat food with value and not empty calories.  I've heard it said as a nation we are overfed yet undernourished.  I agree with that.  

Avatar universal
by LifeArts, Mar 29, 2016
I can only say what I do which is eat at least two serving of blue berry(about 20 to 50 of them), strawberry ( at least 5 of them), some slices of banana, and other fruits daily. Plus I drink, at least, one liter of eVamor water daily, some time two liters. The water does make me use the rest room more, but who cares, I am clearing my system. I like to run and try to do so for at least 6 miles each week, some times more. I do not take things personally because everyone have their own agenda, l laugh more and try to have fun why equally been serious with what I do. I am about 6' 4" tall and weigh about 212 LB and have maintained that weight for past 7 years. I need to lose more, though.

It's all a matter of what we are willing to do to get what we want, even if goes against what others are doing or thinking.

Avatar universal
by evangs, Sep 06, 2016
alinia nitazosanide ? where should i buy ?

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by Med Help, May 19, 2019
Are there any latest trends people are finding that work?

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