Size of portions

To know how big a portion should be in order to satisfy hunger and yet not to overeat is often a major issue for eating disorder patients.

The old proverb that „fear has big eyes“ often applies in anorexia nervosa – the patient sees portions on a plate larger than they really are and she thus tends to serve herself less or not to finish. In bulimia, the problem with estimating portions is similar but tendencies are rather contrary – if I eat more, it is wrong, unpleasant feeling will appear and a bulimic binge may develop.

Correct food handling may markedly help in reducing anxiety from mistakes, it may stop the falling body weight or reduce risk of overeating.

1. Portions are estimated, not calculated Eating disorder patients (and not just them :-)) frequently aim to control energy intake by caloric values, some even know caloric tables by heart. However, a normal and practical way in long term is to know how a portion can be estimated, not calculated or weighed. Calory counting increases a pseudocontrol over food intake, anxiety feelings during eating, and it definitely affects the choice of food in an unhealthy manner.

2. How to estimate portions The size of portions depends on the fact whether we are underweight and we need to gain weight or we don´t. Portions listed are for an adult with a common daily activity. The daily food intake is divided into 5 – 6 meals.

Patients with anorexia or bulimia have difficulty estimating their portions as well as withstanding unpleasant feeling related to serving themselves such portions and really eating them. If there is a mutual agreement, a family member or partner may help serving in the beginning.