, Healthy Eating, What Are You Eating?Portion Distortion: Stop Eating Out Of The Bag

Portion Distortion: Stop Eating Out Of The Bag

Once upon a time.. I used to kill the bag. Destroy the box. I could barely sit down before I tore into it… whatever the “it” was for the day.

I’m talkin’ about snackin’. Although, for me, it was never really a snack. Not in the traditional sense – it wasn’t simply a little bit to hold me over. It was a LOT to hold me over unnecessarily… and on a regular basis.

I remember one day, coming home from the grocery and getting ready to start putting everything away… and the first bag I opened had a bag of Verona cookies inside. Guilty pleasure, yes they were. It felt like for every item I put in the fridge, I was tossing a cookie in my mouth. I don’t even know if I consciously realized what I was doing at that time.. but I was just eatin’ for the sake of eatin’.

Now… it’s all funny and jokes until I think about the fact that by the time I had finished putting the groceries away, I had finished the entire bag of cookies. There’s what – 24 cookies in a bag, right? If one serving size of 3 cookies is 140 calories… 24 divided by 3 equals 8 servings in a bag… so if I ate 140 calories 8 times… that’s over a thousand calories in one fell swoop.

I realized this was a habit for me. If I ate some goldfish crackers, I’d just get them directly out of the box. Pour them from my hand directly into my mouth – that way I never had to face how much of them I was eating. Not like I didn’t care, but… I didn’t care.

If I ate some ice cream? I’d get a spoonful from the pint, sometimes leave the spoon on top of the ice cream (nasty college student habit, I know), and go back to what I was doing. Cheez-its? Pfft, don’t even. My hand would go from box to mouth.

But then, I started reading the nutrition labels. I could never gauge – and if I did, I’d underestimate – just how much of something I was eating. It was getting in the way of my calorie counting. Of knowing what I was really putting in my body. So… I had to figure out a plan. A way to get a better grasp on how much food I was scarfing down mindlessly.

I bought myself a bag of blue corn chips. They taste a little heavier than your typical tortilla chips, but there’s this rich-and-almost-velvety taste to them that totally rocks. I turned the bag over, and took note of the serving size. 1 serving is equal to 15 chips. I then promptly grabbed a box of ziploc bags, and got to work.

Inside each bag… is 15 chips. One serving per ziploc. And wouldn’t you know it – I was eating three and four servings at a time just from mindless snacking? Do you see those portion sizes? Add in the typical guacamole or sour cream? Holy jeez… I was killin’ myself.

How did the ziploc treatment work? Well, let me tell you. It worked. Believe it or not, there’s science behind why.

Consider this study done by researchers at Cornell University:

According to a new Cornell University study, when moviegoers were served stale popcorn in big buckets, they ate 34 percent more than those given the same stale popcorn in medium-sized containers. Tasty food created even larger appetites: Fresh popcorn in large tubs resulted in people eating 45 percent more than those given fresh popcorn in medium-sized containers.

“We’re finding that portion size can influence intake as much as taste,” said Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell. “Large packages and containers can lead to overeating foods we do not even find appealing.”

So… if all it takes to make you eat more of something you don’t like is a larger container..

…could you imagine what it does to you to eat something you like without even transferring it to a container at all? Eating your favorite chips out of the bag, instead of a bowl or a paper towel? Eating your favorite ice cream out of the pint container, instead of a champagne flute (hey, get creative – work with me, here)? Never getting a bowl, a plate – or in my case, a ziploc bag – allowed me to eat at will… never having to face how much I was eating, or exactly how often I was eating, either. Not like I ever had any dishes to clean, right?

Can everyone set aside time to get their ziploc on? Of course not. That’s not my suggestion at all. However, I do believe in baby steps. Take it slow. Start by no longer eating out of the box, bag, or container. Commit yourself to every time you get something to eat, you’ll put it in a bowl or plate before you put it in your mouth. Give yourself the opportunity to see what you’re eating, and if you know you shouldn’t be eating in the first place… feel a little guilt about it as you put it on your plate. ‘Cause yes – sometimes, you know you have no business eating seconds (or firsts, in some cases) and you should feel a little eater’s remorse about it.

So… I’ve fessed up about my Cheez-Its and my Veronas…. what’s the source of your portion distortion?

By | 2017-06-10T11:21:54+00:00 December 8th, 2014|Did You Know, Healthy Eating, What Are You Eating?|30 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.


  1. Brittany February 20, 2010 at 9:38 AM - Reply

    I used to have the very same problem with Pita Chips and cereal. I could literally eat an entire box of cereal in one sitting. Just because it was there! I now place all of my snacks in those re-usable plastic Glad or Ziploc containers. I use the ones that are 1 cup and toss them in my purse for work or when I’m on the go and may need a snack.

  2. Bb February 21, 2010 at 6:42 AM - Reply

    Fantastic advice. Thank you. That’s a good idea with the biscuits!!

  3. Cryssy February 21, 2010 at 3:11 PM - Reply

    This is so on point! I started doing this when I had my daughter – i would always out her snacks in a bad so i started doing the same for myself. I was shocked at the difference it made and how once i was finished what was in the zip lock bag i really didn’t want anymore. Where before if i would just eat straight from the bag my hand was going in the boz/bag at least twice.

    I have invested in the glad/zip lock containers with the actual cup size on them. They are a life saver (when i use them properly) when i want a snack.

  4. PhluffyPrincess February 21, 2010 at 9:02 PM - Reply

    I so agree with your post! For me it is cookies also, oreos, chocolate chip, even chocolate teddy grahams. I just cannot seem to have only the 2-3 that equals one serving size. Throughout the night I will go back for more and more and more. So I either do exactly as you have done, or try to purchase bags that are one serving like the 100 Calorie packs.

  5. Timmera February 22, 2010 at 12:50 PM - Reply

    This post is so true, mindless snacking is one of the worst habits one can have, and it has helped many of us pack on the pounds and keep them there. I started putting measuring cups in all the boxes I eat out of (cereal, cheezits, trailmix, etc…) so that when I go to eat them, I see the 1/4th cup or whatever size it may be, scoop them out like that, and put them in a bag to take to work. That way I am not just pouring or eating without knowing how much I am ingesting. It’s the little steps that make the big goal maintainable!

  6. Au Naptural February 23, 2010 at 5:05 PM - Reply

    Found your blog via @blackgirlsrun. I so very much needed this reminder! Snacking will surely be the death of me. Great idea, Timmera, about putting measuring cups in the boxes. I can stuff quite a bit in a bag, so the measuring cups would be very helpful.

  7. Alfree March 2, 2010 at 12:35 PM - Reply

    I am a victim of mindless eating, via the bag. I still practice sticking it in a zippie bag but thanks for the heads up on the importance. I love food, love to eat, but I am a crazy snacker. It’s as if I always have to have something in my mouth! I think I gained this weight from my constant snacking, back to the zippie!

  8. Margaret S March 8, 2010 at 11:05 PM - Reply

    Mine is Lays potato chips, the plain ones lol. I can munch on those things all the time. But its getting a bit re-dam-diculious lol

    I will give putting them in baggies a try. Hey it definately couldnt hurt. Love your blog!

  9. Hill April 13, 2010 at 5:22 PM - Reply

    Problem – being lazy. All these things take time, effort and planning.

    • Erika April 14, 2010 at 3:41 PM - Reply

      Well, if it’s not worth the effort, it isn’t worth eating… is it? 🙂

  10. cakediva77 April 21, 2010 at 6:59 PM - Reply

    i do this for my kids but not for me …………..i’ll see how it works out

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