I’ve had it with this crazy portion distortion at self-serve frozen yogurt shops – shops that seem to be opening at a fast and furious pace. They all have gargantuan 16 ounce cups, waiting to be filled. The popularity of frozen yogurt appears to go hand in hand with our increased awareness and desire to make healthier choices.
But wait a second – what about having too much of a good thing? It certainly promotes overeating and weight gain.
So instead of only having 16-oz cups, why not provide a more reasonable, but still large, 8-oz ones alongside?
Well, there’s a simple answer as to why they don’t: fat chance if you have an enormous bowl that you’ll have a sensible serving. There’s plenty of research pointing to the impact of large dishes on serving sizes. Considering that you pay by the weight of the cup, smaller ones would take a big bite out of the bottom line of these companies. Getting you to serve yourself more than you intended fatten their wallets – and you too!
Brian Wansink is the king of research looking at mindless eating. He has investigated the impact of a host of factors which influence how much we eat. And dish size is a big one.
Check out his reasoning on having smaller dishes.
Take the one half cup serving you might have intended to get and as you hold down the lever that controls how much yogurt comes out, it likely looks mighty skimpy indeed.
Let me tell you of my experience last week.
Our two granddaughters, aged six and three, wanted to go to Yogurty’s. So off the four of us went. My husband was helping Leila, the younger one with her yogurt while I helped Julia, my older granddaughter make her choices. Now because of the portion distortion issue which irks me to no end, I made sure that Julia’s cup was only about a quarter full. My husband, on the other hand, who didn’t really notice the size of the cup, thought he was getting the right amount by helping Leila to only fill up half her cup. That’s double the amount listed by the company’s nutrition information for a serving.
When Julia saw Leila’s cup, her first reaction was typical of a sibling. “That’s no fair” she said as she looked at what she thought was a very meagre serving. I quietly asked my husband about why he had gotten Leila such a large amount and he commented that he had only filled it half way.
At the popular U.S. chain, Pinkberry, which has only a few Canadian locations out west, they offer a mini which is less than 4 ounces and a small, medium and large (all smaller than the self-serve cups) through to a take home container (just over one and a half times the single serve cups).
When you look at the nutrition information online, the chain Menchies does provide a detailed nutrition analysis for the various flavours- but all for only 1/2 cup/ 4 fl.oz. The info on the toppings is nowhere to be found on the website.
Yogurty’s website gives some numbers – calories, carbohydrate and protein – but nowhere does it mention the portion size.
Then there are the toppings. Are you going to bypass the self-serve brownie bits, peanut butter chips or cheese cake bites or just sprinkle on a little of each? After all, it’s right in front of you as you make your way to the cashier. And how much is just a little sprinkle when you look at the bowl?
When you do the math, you might be a little shell shocked at what you are really consuming. Let’s say you have a bare, no toppings, Wild Blackberry flavour at Menchies and you only fill it up just over three quarters full. You’ll end up with about 400 calories.
You could have had two scoops of Baskin Robbins’ Oreo® Nutty Salted Caramel Ice Cream on a regular cone and still come out ahead in terms of calories. True there’s more fat in the ice cream but consuming an excess of calories, especially when you think you’re choosing a smarter option, doesn’t help your girth control practices. Add some decadent toppings, you’re even more over the top.
Isn’t it time these chains provided smaller cups? It’s time we asked for them.
Do you agree or disagree with the above? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.