May 11 2011

Portion Sizes

Published by at 9:14 am under Health,Life and Living It,Rants

We’ve been dining out a lot more than usual lately, and it has struck me that the portion sizes in restaurants are getting to be ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that I live in a country where I can get a lot of food for relatively little money, but I do not like going to a restaurant and being made to feel like a weirdo for my inability to finish a platter-size serving of food. I find myself wishing more and more that the concept of “half-order” or selecting a size was more prevalent. Why can you only control your portions if you’re eating someplace like McDonald’s? Yesterday, we went out to a Coney Island restaurant. I got a chicken gyro and an order of fries. The gyro was pretty standard sized – a filled pita – although there was a LOT of chicken in it. However, this meal was served on a platter and the entire rest of the platter was filled with french fries. They were great fries, and the gyro was delicious, but when the server came by at the end of the meal, she looked at the 1/4 of the pita I had left and the 3/4 serving of fries and her eyebrows went up. “Are you going to need a box or something?” she asked, almost incredulously. I hate being made to feel as though I’m the one being wasteful when in actuality no one needs a half pound of french fries for lunch, along with a rather hefty sandwich. Give the people who want a huge meal the option to order a “large” side, and give me the option to order the “small” side, and your restaurant will save money and I won’t feel bad for wasting food.

I’ve run into a similar situation at fast food places, McDonald’s especially. They often run a “2 for $1″ special on their pies. I like the cherry pies, but I don’t need two pies at a time. So, I only order one. Invariably, I’m asked if I want to add a second pie so I can get the promotion, and when I say no, I’m charged $.80 or something for the one pie. Why should I be penalized for not wanting to throw a pie in the garbage? Is McDonald’s losing money if I don’t take that pie off their hands?

Americans hear quite a bit about how we’re all overweight, and a large part of this problem are portions that are far too large, but at the same time, we are punished or looked down on if we do want to have the option of getting less food. I have tried to order half of an appetizer or a meal at restaurants where the portions are historically huge, only to be told rather meanly that half-orders are not allowed or available.  If I do manage to get a half-order, there is usually a big kerfuffle where the server has to go consult with the cook and manager as though this is some epic-level negotiation. I understand that some things (such as cuts of meat) cannot be halved, but when I’m getting a bowl of pasta, this should not be an issue.

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