I don’t feel like I am actually eating out with my parents until my mom eyes up the size of her entree and says “Oh my!” as it’s brought to the table. Granted, this habit is so ingrained in her, I don’t think the portion size even matters anymore, but it speaks to a larger truth many diners find: Entrée portions are often much larger than we need or even want. Now science agrees with us.
A recently published study from Tufts University found that 92 percent of entrée portion sizes exceeded the recommended calorie requirements for a single meal. And in a finding that is surprising in how unsurprising it is, researchers also found that occasionally a single entrée—not even including drinks, appetizers or desserts—contained more calories than are recommended for an entire day.
The results don’t come from isolated incidents, either. The study looked at 364 meals in three different cities across the country (Boston, Little Rock and San Francisco) in both chain and local restaurants from a wide variety of cuisines (American, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese) over the course of multiple years, from 2011 to 2014.
For the record, American, Chinese and Italian entrees were the worst offenders, pegged at an average of 1,495 calories per meal.
“Although fast-food restaurants are often the easiest targets for criticism because they provide information on their portion sizes and calories, small restaurants typically provide just as many calories, and sometimes more,” said senior author Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D. according to Science Daily. “Favorite meals often contain three or even four times the amount of calories a person needs, and although in theory we don't have to eat the whole lot in practice most of us don't have enough willpower to stop eating when we have had enough.”
Dr. Roberts knows me so well.