Twenty-three almonds. Two cheese slices. Half a cup of pasta. Twenty-one grapes.
A virtuous way of eating, or a gazillion reasons to have an untrusting relationship with food?
Portion control. It’s something we’ve been taught. A system that can help us eat correctly. A way to lose weight. A means for exercising willpower.
But the clue to its insidious inflicted misery is in the second half of the name: Control.
Watch: Apparently 6 fries is the perfect portion of chips, and excuse us? Post continues below.
Portion control creates shame and guilt about what we eat. It makes food a moral issue. It generates stress and takes up a lot of mental energy. How can you build a meaningful life when you’re busy counting almonds in the name of achieving the 'correct' body?
As a dietitian, I don’t like meal plans and I don’t like portion control.
Rather than tools for healthy eating, they’re part of diet culture and the pervasive way of thinking about body size that deifies thin bodies and sidelines anyone with a soft tummy, or thighs that touch.
It assumes that eating in a certain way - for example, controlling your portions - will result in you achieving the 'correct' body. That is, if you have the willpower to stick with it - and that’s where the guilt comes in.