What does 'A Portion' mean to You? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-04-2016, 10:44 AM
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What does 'A Portion' mean to You?

I find the portion or serving recommendations on packets and elsewhere rather annoying, they will sometimes give you 'nutrition per portion' or serving and then tell you what 'a portion' means to them, but they won't necessarily give you the nutrition per 100g or other core unit.

I find my idea of 'a portion' or 'serving' can vary wildly from whatever manufacturers or health organisations assert 'a portion' is, and I don't think it's necessarily useful or even healthy to be telling people what 'a portion' is without knowing anything about their dietary habits, desires for health, or basic physiology (male / female, 4' 10" / 6' 6, bed ridden / marathon runner, 17 / 70 etc.) is.

For example when I do greens/collards, I do half a 500g pack per meal for two of us. That's 125g each which even when cooked, is WAY over 'a portion' of 'half a cup' which so I've read is the typical recommendation for 'a portion' of greens. It may sound funny but the rule of 'moderation in all things' doesn't apply so far as I'm concerned to green vegetables. Why would I want to moderate things that do me good, if I also enjoy them? I only want to 'moderate' things that are likely to be bad for me.

I can't but help but wonder if standard portion recommendations actually encourage people to eat less than they might otherwise do of really good stuff, and maybe even give them encouragement to eat things that they may not do so if they were just told: Hey this foodstuff is linked to these kinds of cancers, while this foodstuff is reported as being anti-carcinogenic. Now knowing the possible consequences, go away and eat as much as you want to, of both or either of them.

Am I overthinking this? What do you think of as a portion, and does it tally with the 'official' recommendation of 'a portion'? Are portion guidelines (like five portions a day) helpful as a rule of thumb to others?

Last edited by Spudulika; 01-04-2016 at 10:51 AM.
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#2 Old 01-04-2016, 11:17 AM
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I think you're way overthinking it.

To start, I don't think people actually pay attention to "portions." Sure, they say a portion of Flaming Hot Cheetohs is 5 cheetohs, but let's face it, peoples be eatin' dat whole bag.

Generally, I look at portions as the size of my fist, and determine how many or few portions of any given thing I want/need at that time. I don't think "official" recommendations mean anything at all; they recommend milk and meat, for example.

In any event, most people I imagine simply use the listed portions to math out the numbers to what they actually ate or will eat, not as a legitimate guildine of how much to eat.

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#3 Old 01-04-2016, 11:19 AM
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I think a lot of times a serving size on packages anyway has more to do with calorie count or fat count then anything else. Have you noticed when companies came out with 150 calorie snacks in little bags all of sudden there was a rash of these things? You see a whole bunch of snack sized bags of whatever at 150 calories.They don't want people to look at the side of the box or bag and think boy this stuff is fattening and not buy their product. So they try and make the servings work out to 150 calories worth or whatever the target is today.
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#4 Old 01-12-2016, 09:17 AM
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I think they do it so they can tell you how many calories there are in a certain amount. I'll eat a head of lettuce at a sitting, and I have known people who eat much more. A half a mellon is a good size for me.
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#5 Old 01-12-2016, 09:43 AM
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I think "portion sizes" in the sense of food labels are little more than a deceptive way to make a product seem lower calorie/fat/salt/sugar. A can of soup is usually 2 portions, cookies are usually 2 to a portion, bags of chips usually have 10-12 portions per bag ect... Clearly, no one is going to eat half a can of soup, 2 cookies or a couple chips in a setting, but by doing so the manufacturer can put "Only 100 calories per serving!", making the average consumer who doesn't check the label believe a normal portion (eating until satiated) is much less 'bad' for them than it is.

Personally, I feel a portion is that amount to feel satiated, and I would imagine most people feel the same. Since that takes quite a bit, I aim for low calorie, high nutrition foods like fruits and veg. With my raw vegan foods, that can be a pretty sizable amount and I just eat until I'm full (the exception being seeds and nuts, which I'll do a handful of). The few times a week I eat cooked vegan foods, depending on what it is, I usually limit the portion to a bowl (I think our bowls are 16 or 18 oz, and I don't fill them brimming full). With the cooked stuff, that's more than enough as it's more filling than fruits/veg are. I completely avoid the kind of calorie dense, nutrient deficient foods (processed sweets, chips, crackers ext...) that don't fill you up until you've eaten 1000 calories of them (and still provide little to no nutritional value).
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#6 Old 01-12-2016, 10:28 AM
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Portions can also be used to hide bad ingredients, at least in canada. In canada you can legally say something is trans fat free if it contains less than something like 0.2 grams of transfat PER SERVING. So if you put a serving size of 0.19 grams on a container of pure transfat it is transfat free. What a pile of garbage.

Anyways slightly more on topic, I find portion sizes to be annoying for other reasons. If they were to at least use multiples of 10 then I could figure stuff out much more easily in my head. But no, so often a serving is 37g or whatever. It's also completely irrelevant to how much any sane person thinks you will eat.

Portion size is nothing more than the manufacturer trying to paint their product in the best light.

Last edited by odizzido; 01-12-2016 at 12:16 PM.
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#7 Old 01-12-2016, 11:22 AM
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For me, it depends on the food being consumed.

For example:

1 microgram of brussel sprouts = 1 portion
5 kilos of Vego chocolate = 1 portion
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#8 Old 01-12-2016, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuietVegan View Post
For me, it depends on the food being consumed.

For example:

1 microgram of brussel sprouts = 1 portion
5 kilos of Vego chocolate = 1 portion
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#9 Old 01-12-2016, 12:07 PM
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Portion sizes make we want to scream. I've been on Weight Watchers since May, 2014. I lost a good amount of weight and am trying to maintain but it is difficult. It has been my experience that portion sizes, on most products are true to form. It is also not enough food for me. But I try to stick to it as best I can because I do not want to gain the weight back. I feel so much better/healthier where I'm at now. So apparently, the portion sizes are correct for someone my age (old) and activity level (non existent) lol.


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#10 Old 01-12-2016, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuietVegan View Post
For me, it depends on the food being consumed.

For example:

1 microgram of brussel sprouts = 1 portion
5 kilos of Vego chocolate = 1 portion
haha I really like this
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#11 Old 01-12-2016, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwibird08 View Post
I think "portion sizes" in the sense of food labels are little more than a deceptive way to make a product seem lower calorie/fat/salt/sugar. A can of soup is usually 2 portions, cookies are usually 2 to a portion, bags of chips usually have 10-12 portions per bag ect... Clearly, no one is going to eat half a can of soup, 2 cookies or a couple chips in a setting, but by doing so the manufacturer can put "Only 100 calories per serving!", making the average consumer who doesn't check the label believe a normal portion (eating until satiated) is much less 'bad' for them than it is.

Personally, I feel a portion is that amount to feel satiated, and I would imagine most people feel the same. Since that takes quite a bit, I aim for low calorie, high nutrition foods like fruits and veg. With my raw vegan foods, that can be a pretty sizable amount and I just eat until I'm full (the exception being seeds and nuts, which I'll do a handful of). The few times a week I eat cooked vegan foods, depending on what it is, I usually limit the portion to a bowl (I think our bowls are 16 or 18 oz, and I don't fill them brimming full). With the cooked stuff, that's more than enough as it's more filling than fruits/veg are. I completely avoid the kind of calorie dense, nutrient deficient foods (processed sweets, chips, crackers ext...) that don't fill you up until you've eaten 1000 calories of them (and still provide little to no nutritional value).
As you guys probably know by now, I battled an eating disorder for many years. I remember when I was trying to overcome a period of anorexia with binge/purge subtype. I would starve myself down to a very low weight over a long period of time, and then the hunger would become unbearable and I would eat ridiculous portions of food in this wild animal like way. And of course try to compensate in a number of unhealthy ways. Dieting, restricting bingeing etc can sure make it hard to figure out one's true hunger signals because your hormones are so whacked and hunger cues are not there.

At any rate, getting to why I quoted you Kiwibird, I went through periods of eating all raw as a way to try to overcome my eating disorder, or at least challenge it. I used to be so careful about fruit consumption and had these silly rules that I could only have one or two fruits per day (though many more low calorie vegetables of course). So one time I went raw and ate only fresh fruit and leafy greens all the time. I ate as much of it each day as I wanted, because I knew that this was ALL I was eating. It probably was a very misguided way to fight my eating disorder looking back, but it was also a healing step in recovery because I broke my rules about how and what and when to eat, and it was refreshing to eat so much fruit and any time of day. I loved not having to feel guilty because I had four mangoes instead of the alloted one for example. It helped me for a time overcome the cycle of bingeing and starving.

My food choices are still relatively simple most of the time, but my "portions" are always way more than the serving sizes suggested. For example, I require two cups of cooked oatmeal and a cup of raw berries for a breakfast in order to feel satiated but still not too full. And that's fine with me. However, I am still careful about servings when it comes to nuts, or peanut butter, or avocados and pasta. Though I still eat more pasta than the suggested serving. I used to think there was something wrong with me because one serving of anything never filled me up lol.
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#12 Old 01-12-2016, 07:58 PM
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From my observation, the idea of portion sizing may be similar to what kiwibird suggested (advertising trick to make snack foods seem less calories and fat than the average person would actually eat in a sitting)...but also has a lot to do with the outrageous, insane amounts of meat Western people started eating in the 20th century, especially in the United States (peak meat rose from the 1970s, up til peak meat around 2010-2013). There is no respected doctor on earth who would recommend the size and amount of meat the average American consumed in the previous three decades...it's also in relation to deep fried foods like fries and "appetizer" type fried foods in chain restaurants.

If you are talking about plant based food, particularly less processed or lower in fat, you can eat a salad about the size of your head and still consume a very sane amount of calories if you don't over do dressing.

One of the very first things that got me thinking were old fast food commercials from the late 70s and early 80s...the regular size adult meal was about the size of a "kids meal" now.
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#13 Old 01-12-2016, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by River View Post
I think you're way overthinking it.

To start, I don't think people actually pay attention to "portions." Sure, they say a portion of Flaming Hot Cheetohs is 5 cheetohs, but let's face it, peoples be eatin' dat whole bag.

Generally, I look at portions as the size of my fist, and determine how many or few portions of any given thing I want/need at that time. I don't think "official" recommendations mean anything at all; they recommend milk and meat, for example.

In any event, most people I imagine simply use the listed portions to math out the numbers to what they actually ate or will eat, not as a legitimate guildine of how much to eat.

It's absolutely that, in terms of recommendation. ..I love to collect old ads, and everything from DDT, to sugary cereals, and beer used to be "recommended" by the advertising industry to children. I'm talking early 20th century too, not like the 80s cartoon manipulation even.

Milk and meat are very much industries. It's actually one industry in terms of beef and dairy. It's like recommending that you use more fossil fuels, or like a drug dealer suggesting you do more heroin.
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#14 Old 01-12-2016, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by karenlovessnow View Post
Portion sizes make we want to scream. I've been on Weight Watchers since May, 2014. I lost a good amount of weight and am trying to maintain but it is difficult. It has been my experience that portion sizes, on most products are true to form. It is also not enough food for me. But I try to stick to it as best I can because I do not want to gain the weight back. I feel so much better/healthier where I'm at now. So apparently, the portion sizes are correct for someone my age (old) and activity level (non existent) lol.


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That's a valid point especially if you still eat certain kinds of foods, lots of sweets, snack foods, and dairy which is high fat...I actually don't like weight watchers for that reason. ..some people find it less restrictive, it clearly works for you, but honestly to me it makes it seem like people can eat anything and it amounts to calorie points instead of real nutrition, and yes it must be frustrating to waste your points on a small sliver of pie when you would have actually gotten full from eating something with whole grains and fruit.

I'm not criticizing you in any way, and it seems like weight watchers works best especially for Americans, but I've always disliked the system it's based upon. ..even though there is common sense to it. For example the traditional big American breakfast of eggs and bacon with toast and jam and coffee and juice was originally mostly intended for farmers and working class people who did hard physical labor all day long, and may have only had a small sandwich or soup for lunch.
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#15 Old 01-13-2016, 03:49 AM
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I actually find WW more restrictive since I am already not consuming meat/fish/eggs/dairy. And I hear you about using points for snacks and sweets. I can be, quite fairly, described as a junk food junkie. The good thing with WW, for me, is I learned to reach for a piece of fruit (zero points) instead of the cookies/candy. One tiny square of TJ's dark chocolate with almonds amounts to two points, which amounts to one bite, lol. Not exactly satisfying for someone like me but I made it work.

The portions I'm referring to is more for my meals that consisted of rice, beans, tofu, veggie burgers...the healthy stuff. It really boils down to my own issues with food. I want more than a 1/2 cup of beans with 3/4 cups of rice and a plate of steamed veggies. I was hooked on vegenaise, Earth Balance margarine, fried/fatty vegan foods. And then there's bread. I eat whole wheat but I prefer white. Same with my pasta. Those are the junk foods I miss. I don't like most spices so my food was/is pretty bland. I use a lot of marinara sauce, nutritional yeast and vegan parm for taste.
Weight Watchers is definitely not perfect but it forced me to choose the healthy options, and in that respect, I have to give it props. Obviously, it might not be the same with everyone. I was lucky that my will power kicked in.
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#16 Old 01-13-2016, 06:35 AM
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Totally agree with a topic starter. For me, a portion is different for every kind of food, but usually a portion or a serving is as much food as needed to fill the plate.
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#17 Old 01-13-2016, 08:11 AM
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I bumble about with portions, too.
And I give vegetables a lot more leeway (ie, don't really monitor aside from noting if I have leftovers on the plate so I serve less next time) than refined carb pasta.

It depends on how many meals I eat in a day, as well.
Did I just get a veggie juice before work? Then I might make a slightly more hearty dinner.
Have I grazed all day? Then it might be a small salad with a couple tablespoons of beans.

I'm pretty much deciding on a portion size for my most common carbs, brown rice, pasta. It's averaging around a half cup, and I'm trying to reset my appetite thermostat to desire less food.

I do still think in days worth, rather than by the plate.
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#18 Old 01-25-2016, 09:46 PM
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Some of the comments in this thread are spot-on as far as I'm concerned!

I'd like to add that for me, what I consider a 'portion' really depends on what the food is. For example, I like using those 'steamer' frozen vegetables (they cook in the microwave in their unopened bag) that are just vegetables, no sauce or anything. According to their packages, each bag contains about 3.5 servings. Well, I eat THE WHOLE THING! Yes, a whopping 3.5 servings! (Of course, the calorie total is around, oh, 100.)

On the other hand, even though I could eat half a package of Double Stuf Oreos, I TRY to limit myself to 5 or 6. I believe a 'serving' consists of TWO...according to its package. Whatever!
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#19 Old 01-25-2016, 11:45 PM
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For veggies the serving size might be related to the food guide. Maybe.

Also I found out the in the states does the exact same thing as canada. Sugar free tictacs in the US are made out of sugar. Here is a quote directly from their website

Quote:
Tic Tac® mints do contain sugar as listed in the ingredient statement. However, since the amount of sugar per serving (1 mint) is less than 0.5 grams, FDA labeling requirements permit the Nutrition Facts to state that there are 0 grams of sugar per serving.
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#20 Old 01-26-2016, 10:50 AM
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I only use the "serving size" to record my food intake in order to make sure that I'm eating enough calories and so that I can see my daily nutrients and macros. You're right, the recommended portion of many healthy foods is ridiculous. Whole foods like vegetables and fruits should be eaten as much as possible. You can't eat too many vegetables so don't worry about it, just eat as much as you want.
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#21 Old 01-26-2016, 01:35 PM
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The serving sizes are ridiculous on most things, if everybody stuck to them I swear nobody would be anyway near their recommended calorie intake.

The serving size for most cereals is around 30g, I often have 4 times that.


I always at least double what it says.
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