No matter which side you take in the Mayor Bloomberg debate, you have to give the man credit for igniting a conversation. Americans are getting heavier and 42 percent of us will be obese (not overweight) by 2030. And when that happens our nation will be dealing with $550 billion of obesity-related health-care costs. Dramatic action is needed — it cannot be business as usual.
I would be marching behind Bloomberg if I thought his plan would work. Unfortunately there is a lot more to the problem than big sugary drinks. Americans eat too much of everything, except fruits and vegetables. And, I fear, most people have close to a terminal case of sitting disease. My wish for legislation would be for fruits and vegetables to be less expensive than fried puffs of sugar and fat, at least two half-hour movement breaks at work, and insurance paying for everyone to have a yearly check up with their dietitian.
Using Mayor Bloomberg for inspiration here are a few tips for portion control. Do not eat out of containers; always put food on a plate and sit down while eating. Visual cues are important for satiation. A dinner plate that is between 8-10 inches is perfect for serving the right amount of food without any empty space. Eating slowly allows the message of feeling full to travel from the stomach to the brain and avoid overeating. Small sandwich bags are perfect for snack packing.
And my three favorite snacks are an ounce of almonds or pistachios, a bag of raw string beans and my childhood favorite: Laughing Cow cheese. As a 10-year-old eating Laughing Cow, I never thought of it as portion control, it was just a delicious snack. Full disclosure: I’m not a spokesperson for any of the foods mentioned. I’m just a satisfied eater.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.