PROVO — Twenty years ago, a bagel contained 140 calories, a burger was around 333 calories and a regular order of French fries only added about 210 calories to your meal.
Today, an average bagel is significantly larger and contains around 350 calories, a burger around 590 calories and a regular order of fries has 610 calories. No wonder the world we live in today has become bombarded by Slim-Fast drinks and cottage cheese diets.
Although you may not have noticed a change, it's surprising just how much a normal portion size has changed.
"The problem with food is that it always digests," joked professor Jim Painter of Eastern Illinois University during a lecture at BYU on Jan. 17. "You have a big meal, then dinner comes and you're hungry again. Just skipping dessert isn't going to make up for your 3,000-calorie meal."
But loosing weight does not require going on a diet, according to Painter.
He produced a documentary film to prove this point. The film is similar to the Sundance Film Festival hit, "Super Size Me." Using the same play on words, Painter created "Portion Size Me." In his documentary, Painter follows two college students as they eat only fast food for 30 days, and actually lose weight by recognizing their portions.
Since his documentary, Painter has been interviewed by the CBS Morning Show and several national publications. During his visit to BYU, Painter's 50-minute presentation was designed to help students become more aware of their total food consumption and display factors that go into eating too much food. He argues that reducing weight correctly and permanently can be done by considering five steps.
1. The size of serving plate, bowl or cup. Painter found that a large container guarantees you eat more, even if you would have been satisfied with less.
2. Visibility. In Painter's study, he discovered that moving chocolate from a work desk to inside a drawer decreased snacking by 30 percent. If the treat is moved further away, forcing one to get up to obtain the chocolate, consumption decreased by 60 percent.
3. Fancy food labels. Painter discovered that people are most likely to eat something that has an appealing name, and once they eat it, they end up liking it better than the exact same food with a different name.
4. Visual cues. Many people do not feel satisfied until they see a clean plate. "By changing the form of the food you are eating, you will eat less," Painter said. "You will feel equally full and equally satisfied."
5. Self monitoring. Keep record of what you eat every day, make a commitment to write it down."Know what you're eating. Track it, write it down," Painter said. "If you do it consistently, you will lose weight."
Painter said these five steps will help change an individual's style of eating and weight loss will be far more long lasting.
"Diets fail because once you are off you start doing what you had done before," Painter said. "Dietary restriction doesn't work. Lose weight by eating less calories."
Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She is a communications major and editing minor from Brigham Young University.
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