Portion Distortion

April 22nd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Many restaurants are now banning “food photography” – the act of taking a picture of your meal before you dive in. It seems that patrons are complaining about the  flashbulbs that are ruining their dining experience.

That didn’t stop me from photographing the meal my husband ordered at a recent visit to the US restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory. I quickly apologized to my fellow patrons for the flashy intrusion, and snapped a few photos for this blog. Why? This plate blew my mind — it’s such a good example of portion distortion.

If we follow the rule of thumb for portion control, protein should be the size of a deck of cards, carbs should be about a tennis ball, and vegetables should fill half of the plate. Have a good look at this meal. It truly has DOUBLE the portion of protein and mashed potatoes. This PLATTER of food was enough to feed both my husband and I. Naturally, since it was meant for just one person, my husband did finish about 95% of it (including the broccoli!) But I know that he would have been just as satifsied eating less food — about the amount he’d normally serve himself at home.

What made this restaurant decide to offer a double portion of fish and mashed potatoes? Was the second fillet and the second scoop really necessary? It can serve as a good reminder that restaurants have no idea how large or small your appetite is, and it’s a shame to let the faceless chef dictate how much you are going to eat by the amount s/he serves you. There’s a reason why the “doggie bag” exists – if you are faced with a platter of doubles, consider taking home a portion of your meal and having it as tomorrow’s lunch.

And despite the restaurant’s name and speciality, after a meal like that we had no room for dessert!. Unbelievable.

Cara Rosenbloom RD, Words to Eat By

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