Econ made easy

by Khushboo on May 26, 2011

Given the image-obsessed society which we live in, I think that weight loss/maintenance tends to be in the back of every woman’s mind.  Even though I am comfortable at my current weight, I wouldn’t mind shedding a few additional pounds.  For that reason: I’m going to add my two-pence on the subject.  

From genetics to types of food consumed to lack of activity, there are so many contributing factors to obesity.  One that is frequently ignored is overeating and portion control.  I won’t lie, in the past I have avoided certain foods because of their caloric value.  These foods were off-limits at all costs.  But after going a whole 180, I realize that it’s not necessarily what I’m consuming that affects my weight but how much.  

Both in high school and university, I was a huge economics buff so I’m going to finally put that knowledge to use.  A well-know theory is the law of diminishing returns which basically states “the outcome will be less and less utility with each additional unit of input’.  You must be wondering how the heck this applies to obesity and portion control.  Think about something delicious which you have recently eaten.  The first bite is to-die-for and always taste the best.  Various flavors are exploding in your mouth.  But then, with each passing bite, it tastes a little less delicious, until, you kind of wonder why you craved it so strongly in the first place.  Gradually the food has lost its pleasure factor.  This is either because you are no longer hungry or the craving is satisfied.  Whatever the explanation, the point is that the food no longer tastes as good.  That’s when you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns and should put your fork down.  There is never any reason to eat a huge oversized portion or eat until you feel sick.

If you’ve ever sought what constitutes a serving size, I’m sure you’re familiar with following:

  • Piece of meat= deck of playing cards
  • Bowl of rice= tennis ball
  • ¼ cup of dried fruit & nuts= golf ball
  • Small baked potato= computer mouse
  • Grilled fish= checkbook
  • Cup of ice cream= baseball
  • 1 oz cheese= size of your thumb 

While these are all helpful, I also think a correct portion size comes down to the individual.  After reaching the point of diminishing returns, the subsequent bites aren’t providing any additional benefits.  It’s no longer worth the calories.  Ask yourself: Does the food taste as exciting? Am I still hungry?  If the answers are both no, that’s your portion and your signal to stop.  I know this all sounds easier said than done but just try it.  When I used to eat out at restaurants, I would easily wipe my plate clean despite the notoriously large portions. Thinking about food in these terms helps immensely and I hope it has the same effect with you.  Bon appetit :)!

Eat what you want, when you want.  Just exercise moderation!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Parita May 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Awesome post! I agree 100%. They say after the first 3 bites of dessert you aren’t getting your bang for your buck. I heard something about this on NPR this morning as well. Too funny!


Khushboo Thadani May 27, 2011 at 5:22 am

So true: “you aren’t getting your bang for your buck after the first 3 bites of dessert”


Anand May 27, 2011 at 10:37 am

Cookies and Cream Haagen-Dazs ice cream is the exception to the rule.


Pooja May 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I love this rule, heard it in Bethenny frankel’s book, and I’ve been trying to enforce it. Also the differentiation rule e.g. if the low fat cookies taste as good as the full fat the differentiation is small, if the low fat taste gross its better to have a small amount of the full fat than eat a whole low fat 🙂


Khushboo Thadani May 28, 2011 at 3:48 am

I totally agree- if the low fat variety doesn’t live up to taste, no amount will satisfy the craving! When it comes to foods like milk/yogurt, the ‘differentiation’ for me is tiny! Ice cream/cheese, however: go big or go home!


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