Column: Restaurants need to down-size their portions

America is getting fat (or fatter), and I’m not surprised, given the portions at fast food and sit-down restaurants.

Try eating responsibly when you are faced with a grocery bag of burgers or “pig trough”-size dinner plate filled to the rim with food. Perhaps I should use the term “platter” instead of plate because the size of our china is growing along with our appetites.

When I was a little girl, my parents would drive 10 miles to a BBF—Burger Boy Food-O-Rama—for a hamburger and fries. It was a rare occasion and one our small family indulged in, at the most, once a month.

In the 1960s, a normal, adult-size meal consisted of a hamburger, small bag of fries, and a small soda—pretty much the same components of what is a children’s meal at fast food restaurants today. Funny thing about the 1960s, people were satisfied with a lot less food.

I do not remember my mother or father feeling like they needed to eat more than what the simple meal contained. They did not super-size their order with more or bigger burgers or slurp down what amounted to a six-pack of soda in one cup.

One hamburger. One bag of fries. One soda. One meal.

When did we turn the corner to mega burgers, bulging boxes of fries, and pails of soda? Or single plates filled with enough food to feed a family of four? How often have you seen people push themselves away from a table, half-eaten plates rest-ing on the linen and head for the cashier to take out a small loan for dinner? It happens.

There are, and always have been, plenty of individuals who have no trouble earning their “clean plater” awards and no doubt are happy with the change in gastro-nomical direction. However, many lem-mings are following them down the slippery slope of overeating into expanding waistlines because they cannot say “no.”

I admit responsibility falls primarily on the shoulders of the diner who really can just say “no,” but even the most innocent of meals can put any diet into a tailspin when the mantra of “Don’t be wasteful” is drilled into your psyche. Your stomach says stop, and yet your plate is still half full.

Who needs a country fried steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans all swimming in a sea of gravy? Is it really necessary to dine on a hamburger consis-ting of dual patties, a double dose of cheese, and topped by multiple slices of bacon followed by a chocolate shake chaser?

The sandwich weighs more than one of my pet guinea pigs.

Try going into a restaurant and ordering a normal size portion. My mother went to a corner eatery the other day and asked about a salad with chicken. The server admitted the salad size was large enough for two, but my mother was a single diner and since it was impractical to ask for a doggie bag for a salad, half the meal went to waste.

Open up the children’s menu to people older than 12 or the senior menu to non-seniors (or nearly seniors in my case). Companies downsize. Why can’t res-taurants downsize their portions?

Instead of jacking up the price, cut costs by cutting portions. Restaurants and diners would both benefit with less waste and less waist.   

Linda Dillman is a Messenger staff writer.

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