52 Weeks – The Average Meal Size


Picture One of my favorite easy breakfast dishes- oatmeal with a banana, almond butter, and skim milk. I know for those of you who have little interest in the food side of things, these posts may get repetitive this year.  But a quick glance couldn’t hurt, and I will still be mixing in some posts on various other topics. Plus, imagine quickly reading 52 essays on eating healthy by the end of the year.  By the end of the year, you will have covered everything!

I just want all of us to really eat well this year.

52 Weeks to Eating Better Than Ever – Consumption
Average Meal Size
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way.  The average meal size is way too big in America.   I eat reasonably healthy, probably much better than the average American, which unfortunately isn’t saying much.  But even though I try to eat well and do for the most part, I still struggle to regulate portion sizes.  That’s because everything is bigger in America!  No seriously, it is.
I have traveled a lot in my short 40 years, and I can tell you that everything really is bigger here.  Our roads are bigger, our shopping malls are bigger, our cars are bigger, and our meals are bigger too.   Everything is larger in the United States.  Our economic blessings and success makes it harder for us restrain how much we eat at any given time.
Let’s look at an example. If I’m driving to the beach in Florida from Atlanta and want to stop and eat, I can stop and eat at Waffle House, McDonald’s, Cracker Barrel, or any other number of chain restaurants.  Or I can eat at a local restaurant, which might taste better and be healthier.  But regardless of where I stop, the portion sizes are all going to be the same – HUGE.  And if the portion size is not HUGE I am going to be disappointed, because that’s what I’m accustomed to, and this is true even though I am very aware of eating healthy.  If my meal is not big, I will be disappointed. 
Briefly consider these facts:

  • The average American consumed approximately 2000 calories in 1960, and approximately 2590 in 2010.

  • Most Americans are much less active now than they were in 1960.

  • 3500 extra calories will equal one pound of fat gain, so the extra 600 calories we eat per day compared to 1960 could potentially lead to (600 x 7 = 4200, 4200 x 52 = 62 Pounds) 62 pounds of fat gain!

  • From 1960 to 2008, the obesity rate in US adults increased from 13 to 34 percent.

  • The average meal in a restaurant can easily contain 1000 calories or more. 

  • In the 1960s, normal food plates were roughly 9 inches around. In the 1980s, they were about 10 inches and by the year 2000, the average plate was 11 inches in diameter, and now, it’s not unusual to find some even bigger than that!

  • Most serving sizes should be about the size of a golf ball or baseball, whereas we consume portion sizes the size of softballs, or even footballs!

Sources: USDA Economic Research Service & the CDC.

Little things add up quickly.  One of the most important factors in eating healthy is the size of portions.  We all know basically that we tend to eat too much, but restricting portion sizes is a difficult task because we’re so accustomed to overeating.  If the average American should eat 1500-2000 Calories per day, then each meal of 3 meals should not be more than 500-700 calories, which compared to what we normally eat is not much food. 
The key is eating the most quality food you can to make those calories count, which is why quality is one of the 5 main categories of eating better than ever.  Before anything else, be aware of and start working on your portion sizes and remember to go for golf ball size or baseball size portions, not softball or football size.   That way we don’t carry around a basketball, if you know what I mean!

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