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?