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Portion Distortion

November 15, 2009

Many months ago, I did a post on how to eat out in a healthy manner. I also included a small “poster” that is fairly popular entitled “Portion Distortion.”  The poster, available at, provides many pieces of interesting data including:

  • Consuming an extra 100 calories per day for a year adds up to a weight gain of 10 lbs.  (For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a can of Coke – I said 12 oz. can, not a 24 oz. bottle…)
  • 61% of Americans are overweight
  • A typical Jumbo buttered popcorn you get at the movies has 1,650 calories and 90+ grams of fatishot-2

If these stats are startling to you, that is just the tip of the iceberg, people.  We live in a world that truly is distorted in terms of portion size.  The Cinnabon cinnamon roll is well documented as an example of over-portioning.  A Classic roll contains over 800 calories and over 30 grams of fat.  I could go on and on with examples of excessive calories in food.  I’m not saying anything new.


If you’re expecting help from the food manufacturers anytime soon, guess again.  Our good friends at Campbell’s must think we’re not too bright.   A can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup contains 0 calories.  BUT, a can of Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato Soup has 1.5 grams of fat (even though the label says 98% fat free).  I’ll concede 1.5 grams of fat isn’t a lot – but the advertising on that label gives a totally different impression – and often times us healthy folks will pay more for fat free foods.  What’s the solution?


When you buy a car, don’t you check it out from bumper to bumper?  You read the sticker, talk to the salesperson, friends and family; you check out all the options it comes with and ensure you’re getting all you’re paying for.  Why should food be any different – especially since you’re CONSUMING that food into your body?  As a consumer, don’t get ripped off into believing that it’s all on the label.  Despite government regulations and labeling standards, there will be times someone gets away with one.  In the meantime, know what you’re putting into your body.  There is a learning curve for all of us, but you’ll soon find out that the initial time investment is not always necessary in all your grocery shopping excursions.  Your memory will serve you well the next time you buy soup, at the very least!

From the questions I receive, it’s obvious as a country we’re not too smart about what we eat.  Few people really know what a carbohydrate is or the danger of ingesting too much of it (especially with a fat!).  We need a plan.  We need a guide.  We need some love, right?


First off – what’s your plan?  You are the first resource and that means coming up with a meal plan.  You don’t travel to Louisiana unless you have a map, GPS or a cousin with great directions.  Either way you have to plan that trip – or you’ll get lost.  Food is no different.  Plan how you will eat.  There are credible resources for calorie counting or portion control. is one of my faves when it comes to checking out calories at restaurants.  They’ll show you over 50,000 various foods using a drag down menu bar that has tons of brands listed.  Check it out the next time you decide to go out.  Another resource I’ve mentioned is at  Here you can enter just about anything to keep track of what you’ve eaten for the day and it will show you the percentages of macronutrients you’ve ingested and give you advice based on your weight and goals.

Calorie counting leaves many with a bad taste in their mouths.  That’s why I don’t count calories.  I compare.  Using the Nutrition Guide in my P90X materials, I can now estimate so I can compare.  1 protein serving in the P90X program is 100 calories.  1 carbonhydrate serving is 200 calories.  Condiments are 50 calories.  And so on.  Using this is a quick guide, I will compare labels to this info to ensure what they say matches up with my meal plan.


One of my favorite movies is Braveheart, so naturally when he screams “FREEDOM!” at the end, it gives me goosebumps every time.  I can relate to that.  Call me crazy, but when I learn about nutrition, how to overcome the obstacles many face with weight loss, and then APPLY IT, it’s a very satisfying feeling.  Wouldn’t it be great to know tomorrow you are going to look your very best?  Guess what!  You can have that security when you eat healthier food and portions.  Every day I exercise, I have added confidence that much more.  Don’t obsess about counting calories.  Just gain a basic understanding of what you’re eating, adjust your portions and then learn along the way.

Then there’s the cost benefit.  By eating smaller portions instead of the ones you’ve grown accustomed to – you’re eating less – and fixing less.  I don’t know about you, but that means less food is needed…and that means a reduction in groceries.  In this economy, every place we can save is Bonus Time!  Trust me, you’ll be shouting “FREEDOM!” as loud as Mel, only you won’t be on a horse with blue paint.  (Hey Mel, what WAS up with that blue paint anyway?)

This is my “umpteenth” article about nutrition and I suspect there will be many more.  Why?  Because I believe it’s the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle and allows you to make the changes you want successfully.  If you want more info, please email me at or make a comment below.  Blog post suggestions are always welcome!

Aside from blogging and my normal day job, I’m also an Independent Beachbody Coach.  That means I have access to many programs that can help you achieve goals you may never have thought possible.  I thoroughly enjoy talking about fitness, health and self-improvement.  I’m here to research topics and help.  That’s just the way I was made, so let me help when help is needed.

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