Giant Burger "The Big Sloppy" photo by spilltojill, | The Girl Next Door is Black
Look at the size of this thing! (Not a burger I’ve actually attempted to eat.) Source

The server threw me a questioning look as he observed my half-full plate.

“Was everything okay with your meal, miss?”

“Yes, it’s fine. I’ll just take a box please.”

“Oh, you can eat more than that! You barely touched it!”

I glanced down at my plate, then my stomach. I’d stuffed all that would fit in the compartment.

“Hahaha, no really you can take it,” I said, pushing the plate further away from me.

“Okay,” he relented, his tone skeptical as he reviewed the remains of my dish.

Surely he didn’t expect me to eat that whole gargantuan plate of food!

Unless it’s at a place of fine dining and serious dollar-mining with portions so small you wonder if the kitchen is rationing food, I almost never finish an entire entree when I dine out. It’s not because I have birdlike eating habits.

It’s no secret that American restaurants serve gigantic plates full of enough food to feed you for multiple meals. Unfortunately, instead of eating such generous portions over the span of several meals, for many the inclination is to consume the entire dish. This is on top of whatever else they’ve eaten that day. That’s a hell of a lot of food! Restaurant serving sizes have grown many times over what they were decades ago.

CDC Food Portions Time to Scale Back | The Girl Next Door is Black
This is nuts!

Save for half-order lunch options, restaurants don’t usually serve select-a-size meal portions. I’m 5’1″ (and 3/4!); I’m a petite woman. When I order an entrée, I receive the same servings as everyone else who orders the same menu item, including say, a 6’4″ 200-lb man. Between me and a man of that height and weight, one of us requires far more daily calories to function than the other. Yet, we’re given the same amount of food. If, on a consistent basis, I ingested the same quantity of food as that man, eventually I probably wouldn’t be able to leave my home. I’d be a candidate for my own show on TLC,  broadcast from my bed where I am laid up like a blown-up Tootsie Roll ready to pop.

I don’t do diets. I’ve tried my fair share of fad diets in the past: don’t eat carbs; eat more fat; drink spicy lemon water; chocolate shakes; strawberry shakes; vitamin supplements; starve and smile bitterly through your hunger pangs as delicious culinary scents waft under your nose.

None of that crap worked for me long-term, if at all.

I’ve comfortably settled upon portion control, with an emphasis on healthier options, as my choice of “diet.” It allows me to eat what I like in moderation. This way there are no happy rice grains and pasta strands high-kicking their way through my dreams taunting me, “You know you waaaaant us, you know you liiiiike us.” No staring at the clock, eagerly anticipating the time for the next meal. No deprivation. No calorie counting. No boring people with talk about my dietary habits.

Get Out of Diet Free Monopoly Card by Heather Wegemer, | The Girl Next Door is Black

I know it’s radical and revolutionary, but combined with regular exercise, this method works well for me and keeps me in good shape.

At brunch in Houston a few years ago, I ordered a side of bacon to accompany my stack of cakes.

“Do you want four slices or eight, darlin’?”

Four or EIGHT? Those are my options? I just want two slices of bacon! Two!

Houston regularly lands in the top 10 on the list of “Fattest Cities in America“.

I opted for the four slices of bacon and pawned two off on my sister. Let’s be real: it’s not hard to get rid of bacon in our pig-lovin’ society.

The pancakes arrived, an imposing tower of spongy starch. I dug in, brushing aside my initial intimidation at the sight of the mammoth heap, slowly savoring each bite. The only way I’d inhale the whole mound is if an Amazing Race win was on the line. Thank goodness for takeout boxes.

What Do You Think?

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  • Adelynn Lovellette
    March 26, 2015

    I completely agree with you that the portions are just too big. Almost everytime I go eat out with my girlfriends I’m the one going home with a doggy bag because I didn’t finish my food. Sure I can finish my food if we were there for over an hour, but why would I make people wait on me. I just don’t understand how some people are able to finish their dishes and still have time to converse also. Maybe it’s just because I chew too slow? At least I’m not overstuffing myself and regretting it later.

    • I’m a slower eater compared to many of my friends too. The good thing is, I read that since it takes your brain 15-20 minutes to recognize you’re full, eating more slowly helps you avoid overeating.

  • Kenya G. Johnson
    February 25, 2015

    When we go to somewhere like Cracker Barrel for breakfast we are usually mixing and matching all the food we received. I can’t eat three pancakes and pancakes is all I want but it comes with meat. So I give the meat to my husband and son. My son doesn’t want any pancakes but he wants to taste mine so he’ll usually eat the extra one. There’s no way I could eat all of that and I never get a doggie bag for pancakes. Yuck.

    • Nice! Working the family angle. That’s smart. It helps if you like similar foods. I love when I can split meals with people.

  • thebritishberliner
    February 24, 2015

    I’m amazed at how huge American portions are. I’m British and we went to the States for the first time a few years ago. On our first night, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood all excited and I ordered a side dish of potato skins as a starter and a main. I was shocked when I saw how huge the starter was. I was expecting two pieces and a bit of lettuce. I couldn’t even finish the starter! We took a doggie pack and I ended up throwing it out the next day as I just couldn’t eat it and we were on a road trip through 5 American States. After that, it was “could I have a childs’ portion please?”

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 25, 2015

      Chain restaurants are some of the worst offenders when it comes to absurdly large plates. You brought up another point I forgot – what to do with the leftovers when traveling. I’ve had to waste food I couldn’t finish on trips. It’s not like all hotel rooms have refrigerators and microwaves for storage and reheating.

      Kids meals are a good tip! And bonus? They are less expensive!

  • Mrs. AOK
    February 23, 2015

    I’m with you, thank goodness for the takeout box! I usually cannot finish the meal served to me when we dine out, I’m queen of reinventing the takeaway meals 🙂 . I actually went to school with a woman who was on the TLC show my 500LB Life. I went to school in Texas.

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 23, 2015

      Reinventing takeout? As in making a different dish with the ingredients? That’s cool!

      Did the woman you went to school with end up losing the weight? I think Houston also has one of the best weight loss surgery hospitals on the counry.

  • Charlotte
    February 23, 2015

    Amen. It’s no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic in our society with the way our portion sizes keep growing. Often I force myself to finish what’s on my plate, but you’re absolutely right. Why not just take it home and have a meal for a later date?

  • Angela Gilmore
    February 22, 2015

    I was raised to finish my plate and it took me a long time to break that nagging feeling. I hate feeling full, especially when it’s from a meal that was less than healthy. I am actually happy when I can leave something on the plate because it means that I am listening to my body and not my years of childhood training. I agree that portion control and activity are the best tools to lose weight. I have friends who have tried every diet under the sun and nothing ever sticks!

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 23, 2015

      I was raised the same way, Angela. I know what you mean about that nagging feeling. I had second thoughts about writing this post, because who complains about too much food? lol Of course, my point is larger than that. I agree that it’s so important to listen to your body and knowing when you’ve had enough.

      • jessbures
        March 11, 2015

        Maybe this is a problem you need to discuss too!! The fact that our generation was raised that we should not waste food and to finish our plates even if we were so full and eating one more bite might make you explode lol. Now that you did this post and I read this comment..i will look at my daughter differently when she tells me she is full and my response is always “at least 2 more bites”..she barely eats half a plate full and I learned to give her less portions but sometimes I cannot see how she is full when she only ate 5 bites of food. This is definitely food for thought! lol!
        Thanks for linking up at Totally Terrific Tuesday! pinned and shared everything you linked up!!

        • Maybe this is a problem you need to discuss too!! The fact that our generation was raised that we should not waste food and to finish our plates even if we were so full and eating one more bite might make you explode lol.

          I just might. That training goes deep.

          It’s especially tough when other people insist on filling your plate for you because then you really have no say in your portions. An older relative once served me up a plate heaping with all kinds of fried foods. I ate silently willing myself to be able to eat as much of it as possible, not wanting to be disrespectful. But, I couldn’t finish (and all the oil was making me feel icky). The relative gave me a sad look and assumed I didn’t like the food. Sigh. Haha.

          I’m glad this was “food for thought” Jess, that’s my hope!

  • Tracy @ Crazy As Normal
    February 21, 2015

    I noticed places like Pei Wei have started offering “small” dishes. On one hand – I love it, because it’s the the right amount of food. Hate in the other hand, because now what am I going to eat for lunch tomorrow?!? 🙂

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 23, 2015

      I’m guessing Pei Wei is like a PF Chang? That’s cool that they’e doing that. Maybe that’s a sign that restaurants are making changes? As far as lunch, um… 😉

  • Ruebi @ LHB
    February 21, 2015

    I’m not great when it comes to finishing meals either, I get about halfway through and just can’t manage the rest. Some servers are fine with it, some even acknowledge that the portions are just too big…Others can be a little, well, rude. I had one that was just insulted that I hadn’t managed the whole meal and pretty much bitched me out in the middle of the restaurant (needless to say I haven’t been back there since!).

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 21, 2015

      See that’s crazy to me. I get it if the chef is curious whether or not you liked the meal, that’s one thing. But, people shouldn’t just assume you’re not finishing your plate for negative reasons. Even if it’s not the portion sizes, restaurant food is sometimes extra laden with salt, butter and/or oil. It’s just being sensible.

  • ercatalano10
    February 21, 2015

    Totally agree. I’m (almost) 5’3″. I couldn’t even get my mouth around that burger! Following you on G+ now btw as per our “in-depth” twitter SITSshare discussion. 😉

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 21, 2015

      Yay for the follow!

      The burger is just a sample, no way in hell I could even make a dent out of that. Lol. I wanted an exaggerated photo to make my point. 🙂

  • Lisa @ Fun Money Finds
    February 20, 2015

    So funny! I almost never finish a whole meal either. About a month ago we went to lunch and I ate a my entire sandwich and French fries because they were just so good I couldn’t stop. I felt so full and really awful for the rest of the day and it made me remember why I usually just take 1/2 home for later!

  • BritishMumUSA
    February 20, 2015

    Heck yes, you are slightly taller than me, and each year of living here packed on another couple of pounds. So by the time I had my second child I was a chunky 50 pounds or more a little over weight. So I did WW, did the portion control and walked, took the stairs and park a ways away. Now 50 pounds lighter, and HAPPY…. When I go out I ask for the dinner and a doggie bag up front, I get the weirdest looks. I cut my meal in half before I even start. There is always more than enough food. Nice one mate…. I also noticed that in SF there were not so may over weight peeps…..

    • The Girl Next Door is Black
      February 21, 2015

      Yes! One more person I am taller than! J/k

      One of my friends asks for a togo box upfront and gets odd looks too. Then they’ll bring out a platter full of food like one person is supposed to eat the whole thing. I mean, really.

      Yeah, SF is often in the top 10 of healthiest cities in the country. I think the fact that it’s a walking city helps and also, people love being outdoors being active. The weather usually permits it.

  • Kennedy DeSousa
    February 19, 2015

    Looks like I can get fat eating out with you! 🙂 Because if you won’t finish the dish I sure will! Lovely post btw!