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August 04, 2008

Stop Blaming the Boogie-Man; It's the Calories, Stupid

Saw this over the weekend:

In 1970, the average American ate about 16.4 pounds of food a week, or 2.3 pounds daily. By 2006, the average intake grew by an additional 1.8 pounds a week.

Among other things, that's an extra half pound of fat weekly - mostly from oils and shortening. That doesn't count the fat in the extra quarter pound of meat Americans now eat every seven days. Those fats were somewhat offset by a steep drop in dairy consumption, the only major food group to have a decline, primarily in milk drinking. (But we do love our cheese. More and more of it.)

Blaming our food rather than the real problem, which is that we eat too much of it, is de rigueur for fad diets. It's the preservatives, they say. Or that evil high fructose corn syrup. Or (for the truly far-out) the dreaded "toxins." If you think corn syrup is part of the problem, here's an idea: eat less of it.

The truth is that portion control is a good first step for anyone looking to control their weight. Americans have, over time, succumbed to an unusually expansive view of what is a normal serving, especially (and I will be blunt) overweight people. How many times have you heard: well, he's a big guy, he needs to eat more. Did you think that there might not be a wee bit of a connection there?

Now, it's not easy to simply reduce the size of your meals. At least, not sharply. Not all at once. But you can train your stomach (actually shrink your stomach) by not filling it to capacity at every meal. What you think of as a "normal" portion will shrink too. Combine it with a little exercise, or even a bona fide diet regime (I know Ace swears by Atkins) and a little portion control works wonders.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:57 PM

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