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A Healthy Little Secret of a Dietitian

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Everyone wants to know the secret, some sort of a scheme for the perfect weight loss program, which would actually work. What is the secret, if there's one? Good news, there might be one. A number of studies have shown that portion-controlled eating and meal discipline help, and even prevent eating disorders like grazing, binge eating, or bulimia. Now, would you like to learn more and see what tools can be used? Stick with me here, I’ll try to make it short.  

Let’s start with the standard serving size.

Serving size amounts are different from ‘portion sizes’, these are the amounts of food that an individual will consume in one meal. For example, a standard serving of breakfast cereal is 1 oz or 30 g, but the usual portion of cereal consumed may be equivalent to two standard servings (2 oz or 60 g cereal or one cup). To add more to the confusion, the standard serving sizes are different again from the ‘serving size’ (or recommended serving size) indicated on a product’s nutrition information label. The recommended serving size on a nutrition information label is set by the manufacturer and corresponds to the amount they suggest as being appropriate for consumption in one meal, (e.g. 1.5 oz or 45 g of cereal consumed at breakfast).

Why is this even relevant?

Larger portion sizes and changes in eating patterns have been identified as important contributors to weight gain but it isn’t new information anymore, we get it. Many studies have shown that portion sizes, particularly of energy dense, nutrient poor foods and drinks, aka junk foods, have increased drastically. For example, in some fast-food restaurants French fries and soft drink portion sizes are now 2–5 times larger than their original portion sizes. Logically, we should get 2-5 times larger as well, but we don’t want to. 

So, what is the plan?

Here’s the main reason why the presentation of smaller portion sizes could “re-train” us for more appropriate portion sizes, it is because visual perception of what constitutes a “normal” size or an amount, is driven by what people are used to seeing in their environment—otherwise known as their “visual diet”. An appetite control and human eating behavior in general, have been found as being flexible behaviors, meaning that there is no tight physiologic control of energy intake and therefore no “appropriate” amount to eat. Basically, we can train ourselves to any amount of food we choose to eat.

How can this be done?

Eating less is not an easy task and we all have leaned it by now. However, the secret might be in a meal kit. The learning journey can start in the meal delivery services. A meal kit is a subscription service for food service, where a company sends customers pre-portioned and often home cooked meals. These services that send cooked meals are called meal delivery services. Starting a meal kit delivery service can seem like a dreadful task and a huge commitment, but it's actually designed to simplify your lifestyle. First step is the hardest but we must make one.


Dharia, S.; Goel, M.; Goel, R.; Hamrapurkar, S.; Nasta, AM.; Vyas, S. (2018). Portion Control Eating-a Determinant of Bariatric Outcomes. Retrieved from:

Brown, H.; Bucher, A.; Collins, C.; Dean, M.; Rollo, M.; Smith, S.; Sun, M. (2017). Position paper on the need for portion-size education and a standardised unit of measurement. Retrieved from:

Kersbergen, I.; Robinson, E. (2018). Portion size and later food intake: evidence on the "normalizing" effect of reducing food portion sizes. Retrieved from:

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