As parents of three active children involved in sports, music lessons and school activities, we occasionally take a break from the daily routine of cooking and clean up to dine out. Each time we go to the popular family locations like Pizzeria Uno, Chili's and Olive Garden, we are amazed at the portions that arrive at the table after ordering. While restaurants make the argument that they are offering value by providing extra food for the money, my husband and I always wonder if these monster-sized portions aren't contributing to the increasing obesity problem in young children.
One of the major contributors to the growing waistlines in our society can be explained by our attitude of "more is always better." Dieting researchers have been studying the art of losing weight for many years, longer than those reading this have been alive. They've found that one of the main contributors to the growing problem of obesity is not necessarily the type of food eaten by the majority of the population, but the portions in which they are consuming those foods.
Fact is, you have probably heard the easiest dieting hint a hundred times in your life, but haven't really given it much thought. So what is the secret? Moderation and portion control. Unfortunately, children are being given a false sense of what a true portion really is. Without my husband and I intervening, our children load their plates with portions they can't possibly consume, or worse, amounts they may try to.
Even the unhealthiest foods consumed by us on a daily basis, can be manageable if we limit the amount we actually eat. In the restaurant scenario, when we know we are at an establishment that overloads our plates, we have taken to ordering less meals than the number of our family members. Instead we share the dishes we have family style. In restaurants that offer "half-size" or "lunch-size" portions, we will order that in place of the dinner-sized meal.
There is an old saying, "Everything in moderation." If you live by this saying then you will find that the pounds you are putting on from over eating will decrease if not vanish. No one likes to be hungry, so along with portion control, make sure you pick foods that are rich in fiber, and that you are getting the correct amount of calories per day to maintain a healthy weight for you and your family. Keeping control and watching your family's weight as well as your own is the first step to a healthier family with healthier habits.