Eating From a Bento Box: Why portion sizes matter.
As Jamie Oliver shared with me a few weeks ago, we can do a lot by beginning to educate people to make better choices. However, to quote a line from an article in Bloomberg last week, “Now the trickier side of the equation: children, whose food world is shaped at home, at school and by the commercial media.” The last few months we’ve had interns visiting us from Belgium, France and Kansas. It’s fascinating to hear their perceptions and observations about food in Los Angeles vs. what they are accustomed to. Jonathan, our newest O2 MAX team member had a fun story I wanted to share about Bento Boxes! Who would’ve though?
Growing up my mother used to always tell me, “Jonathan your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” As a child, I would grab an extra meatloaf slice or two, thinking that I could handle a mound of food because I was a growing boy. Come my teen years all that extra food did help me grow, but not always vertically. Now when I look back at my teenage years, I’m always amazed I wasn’t larger. A burger with fries and a soft drink, no try a double cheeseburger, super sized with coke and fries. How about a foot long for lunch, this option was not even on the table, it was always a foot long and another 6-inch sandwich. In my mind, it was only a few more dollars for so much more tasty food.
Fast food restaurants have always been the center of the blame game for our obesity epidemic. The hottest trend now is to thumb one’s noise at fast food portion sizes. In fact, Mayor Bloomberg of New York is fighting to band all sugary soft drinks that are more than 16 fluid ounces. Furthermore, in response to such documentaries like “Super Size Me,” some of the major burger chains have stopped selling their super size package. Those who blame these institutions for fatting up America are too quick to point fingers. No one is force-feeding us this food, and we all know a burger and fries diet is deadly. What has happened in America is that we lost control of our portion sizes.
Just ask Sean your normal teenager from the Midwest. While talking to him about his favorite food, a certain delight came over him while explaining his favorite burger joint, “At this place you can order a ½ pound of fries for around 2 bucks.” It was not clear from that comment if it was the fries, portion, or amount of money it cost to purchase them that filled him with such splendor. In any case, all three are related, and each is a root cause to large portion sizes.
Portion sizes start when we are young and the notion of size continues through adulthood. As a fitness professional and role model, I try to share with teens how to control how much they eat is as important as what they eat. This can be done through: eating 6 small meals a day, measuring out your food, serving soup or a salad before each meal, eating on smaller plates, and showing them how much food to take of each food item (half the plate vegetables, quarter of the plate protein, and the other quarter a complex carbohydrate). An inventive way my mom taught food allotment was by using bento boxes during family dinners, these Japanese plates portion the food out for you. Simple ideas like these make life more manageable and enjoyable. In the end, we are in control of what goes into our mouth, as well as how much we choose to consume.