Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Size Matters

I'm one day into measuring foods, looking at labels and learning about servings sizes and already I've learned a very valuable lesson: I get pissed off very easily.

My husband always jokes about my temper. On occasion I'll be sitting on the couch and he'll throw a sock at me. Unlike most people who might go through steps at having a sock thrown at them, I skip a few. I slide right through confusion ("Was that a sock?"), quickly run through curiosity ("Why would you throw a sock?"), and I even leap over anger ("You suck.") and I go straight into redhead fury ("What the !@#$!"). And then we proceed into a battle where socks are launched across the room at blinding speeds toward one another until he surrenders or I realise that I'm touching dirty socks and I don't know who they belong to anymore.

Something similar happened yesterday as I went into the kitchen to make myself food. I looked at the labels of everything I wanted to eat. "Ramen has two servings in one package?! It normally takes two packages just to fill me up!" "Wait... how are five meatballs one serving?" "Are you kidding me?! One and a fourth of a cup of cereal is supposed to equal breakfast?!" Straight into the fury.

But I'm not angry at the servings. It's not their fault. It's the fact that I've been going to restaurants my whole life where I've been taught what servings mean, in restaurant language. We all have heard that in America the serving sizes in restaurants are at least double, sometimes all the way up to five times the serving size around the globe. We like things big. We like more of a good thing, and sometimes, too much of it. We pride ourselves on getting our moneys worth. Being poor growing up did not help my cause. When we were able to afford eating out, we often went to buffets and my siblings and I would hear, "Alright, get your moneys worth." Which to us meant that if we didn't eat until we were bursting at the seams, we were being wasteful.

Likewise, when I learned how to cook for myself and my husband, I would make recipes using all of the can, box, bag, etc that whatever ingredient came with. When making spaghetti it only seemed natural to use all of the pasta in the bag. After all, that's how I saw everyone else doing it. So when it came time to eat dinner, portions were skewed. Sure sometimes we would have leftovers, but if the food was good we would often say, "Is there enough for seconds?" never wondering how many servings we've already eaten in one sitting already. Even if I was full, sometimes looking at the massive amount of leftovers, my brain would think, "If you don't eat it now, it will go bad and that's wasteful."

So as per Charlie's instructions, I observed yesterday, but did not change. At least for one day. And I realised that as far as labels go, I'm eating twice as much as I should be. Twice the cereal, twice the soup, hell, even twice the Subway sandwiches!

This is why dieters fail so often. Because diets tell you how much everyone should be eating. Not just to lose weight, but to survive (and thrive), and because we're all so indoctrinated in our youth to not be wasteful, to eat what's on our plates and what we're given, our bodies get used to overeating without even realizing that we're overeating to begin with!

I'm officially moving to France.


  1. Ooooh! France sounds like fun. But not right now, because all of Europe is pretending to be a deep freezer, and nobody can get in or out.

    Yeah, portions threw me for a loop, too, when I first noticed them. Lord love a duck, I was shocked. Literally.

    And that pissed off part? Eh. It fades with age. At least, mine did. I think my kids just wore me down over the decades.

    I wonder if being pissed burns any extra calories? It might be worth a sock fight or two, especially if there's any sort of making up involved.

  2. I hear you on the portions thing. Have you ever read "French women don't get fat"? That was an eye opener for me on the whole portion size thing. Most of the time I remember, sometimes I conveniently forget, :( Other times when the hubs says "I'm still hungry" after what I've calculated to be 3-4 servings per instructions, I'm thinking oh my crap! Don't you realize you've already eaten 1000 calories. But he doesn't. You know? Cause like most people he doesn't think about it. France sounds nice, can I come? :)

  3. Ah, but you are forgetting that the French love to walk. It only adds to their perpetual thinnyness.
    I'm glad you are observing what is happening. Mentally, you need to go through some preperation before we start making big changes. I'm hoping that you realize WHY I am going to ask you to make the changes to come. You aren't going to starve, but your body is going to do some uncomfortable adjusting. But, that's not here yet. For today, enjoy the sticker shock. I remember my first realization of portion agony. Chocolate chip cookie dough. Still breaks my heart to this day...

  4. Jia- you have been very very quiet. Update us please?

  5. Oh my God....You are adorable and hilarious.

    I love you already and I just started reading your blog. :)

  6. You know I always put off eating healthy because being on a food budget (poor, lol!). I thought there was no way I could eat healthy. Until I realized that I was eating for two to three people and feeding my kids adult sizes. Of course my teenager is now adult size, but still. I still have to stretch my budget but I am finding that I am spending less because we are not buying the crap food.