Portion Blindness? How much is ‘a lot of food’?

When I started photo-dieting it was because I felt I needed to actually see the amount of food I ate. Not just some words and figures on a page but what that amount looked like.  It worked. I quickly learned that even when I ate healthily I put too much on my plate.

Now, I’m not saying that I don’t still put too much on my plate sometimes. But I am aware of it. I’ve also learned, from looking at the meals other people photograph and post to flickr, that some people eat a lot less than I do, others more. Often I’ll look at a pretty bento photograph and think ‘is that all she ate?’ But I was very surprised at a (real-life) comment made the other day about this lunch:

California Rolls, grapes, tomatoes, blush pear, mini cheesy red pepper muffin (didn't eat the banana)

I was invigilating some exams with another lady who I have worked with once before. I knew there was no microwave or fridge available for me that day and, unusually for me, I brought in shop-bought food. Mainly because this box of California rolls caught my eye in the supermarket and I wanted an excuse to try is (the entire box is 303 calories). I packed it in my coolbag with the tomatoes, grapes and small pear. There is also a tiny cheesy red pepper muffin (49 calories) in there.

R and I ate our lunch together and chatted. She remembered that I photograph my food and asked how it was going. We chatted about food and diets. She does Weight Watchers. She commented that I had brought in ‘a lot of food’. I was rather surprised as I thought I’d been quite restrained.  She then took out her lunch. A tub full of couscous and roasted vegetables. Lovely, tasty (I would imagine) and healthy. But – her tub was bigger and deeper than my California rolls box and stuffed full.  I found it strange that she should feel that I had brought in ‘a lot of food’. I found the rolls quite filling and didn’t need the (small) banana. Perhaps I only imagined the “good girl” comment and smile from her as I put it back into my bag.

But I have to wonder. Which of us was kidding ourselves about the amount of food we were eating?

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4 Responses to “Portion Blindness? How much is ‘a lot of food’?”

  1. Sile Says:

    Using the banana as a guide, the lunch doesn’t look THAT big to me. Though, I must admit, I’d probably get through the sushi and maybe the grapes and be stuffed.
    She probably thought that because her container was smaller (depth is never taken into account for some people) that she was eating less. But she probably had just as much food as you. (pity you didn’t get a picture of her lunch for comparison 😉
    BTW, what’s that orange stuff in the cup?

  2. jacqib Says:

    The orange stuff is some kind of chilli sauce that came with the California rolls. I had a little taste but it’s not really my thing – just as well as it is probably full of sugar. I didn’t eat the (small) banana and half the grapes and tomatoes were eaten the same day but several hours later.
    I’d have loved to have snapped her lunch for comparison but I don’t know her that well and really didn’t feel I could ask (and didn’t have the option to do it ‘surruptitiously’.

  3. My Bento Diet Says:

    You know I wouldn’t let her comment bother you. What is “too much” for one person is not enough for someone else; and that can vary from day to day and meal to meal. My advice for portion sizes; if your really physical hungry before you’re next planned meal then you didn’t have enough, if you’re still full you ate too much (for you). That simple 🙂

  4. jacqib Says:

    Thanks, MBD. Wise words, a very sensible way of looking at it.

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