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Mather: Put Half Your Meal Into a To-go Container To Fight Overeating at Restaurants

Federal study says restaurant portions are four-times larger than in the 1950s.

Studies have found that restaurant meals have been getting larger, which might be a contributing factor in adults expanding in the midsection. In June, launched its Perfect Plates Restaurant Program to make smaller portions at area restaurants more available in Suffolk County. They also asked people if they thought restaurant servings were too large and asked them for their suggestions on how to control overeating while dining out.

Local restaurants in Mather's Perfect Plate program included, , , , and Dino’s Pizza.

A majority of the people polled (88 percent) said portions at restaurants were too big.

The hospital said in a statement that portion control can help people prevent weight gain and reduce their risk of chronic disease. They cited a Federal study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that found restaurant meals are, on average, more than four times larger today than they were in the 1950s. Interestingly, over that same time period, the average adult weighs 26 pounds more than in the era of the Big Bopper.

Mather’s Perfect Plates Restaurant Program included a contest asking people for their best tips on how to eat less when out on the town. The “Tips for Eating Less While Dining Out” contest offered a total of $100 in gift cards from restaurants that provide smaller portion options on their menus as prizes for people who submitted tips online.

The top suggestion: Put half of your food in a to-go container at the start of a meal. As a matter of fact, 41 percent of the more than 100 entrants offered that tip as a way of dealing with big restaurant portions.

“Not only does it help with portion control, but now you have two meals for the price of one,” said Gemma Saylor, Program Director and Registered Dietitian at the hospital.

Other suggestions included starting your meal with a soup or salad, drinking more water, avoiding the bread basket, sharing the meal with a friend and choosing appetizers instead of an entrée.

Although, Saylor warned that appetizers sometimes can be worse than your mail meal.

“Don’t be fooled by the term ‘appetizer’,” she said. “Some of them are very high in calories. A popular spinach artichoke dip can contain as many as 1500 calories.”

Mather Hospital’s Perfect Plates Restaurant Program was funded by the New York State Department of Health- Healthy Heart Program to work with local restaurants to offer smaller portion options to their customers. For more information on the Perfect Plates Restaurant program, contact Gemma Saylor, RD and Director of the program, at (631) 476-2723.

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