Consider the typical restaurant meal: a large piece of meat draped over the plate and an 8-ounce potato swimming in butter and sour cream served on the side. Other vegetables and fruits appear as a garnish – if they are present at all.
This is America’s concept of dinner. Small wonder we’re growing larger by the minute.What if you could sit down to a full plate and get up from the table satisfied, yet still lose weight? That is the promise of the Perfect Portions Diet Dish, a weight-management tool invented by Akron-area dietitian Kim Gorman and her partner, Jaime Brenkus, a Willoughby personal trainer who is spokesman for the product.
“I lost 24 pounds with it after the birth of my second son,” says Gorman, whose before and after photos appear in the product’s promotional materials. She used the dish to control the “grazing” she
did at home with two small children.
The product consists of a segmented see-through plastic dish, base, cover and preprinted discs that fit between the dish and base. The diner selects a disc for breakfast, lunch or dinner – for a beef or Italian meal, for instance – and then fills the compartments based on instructions on the disc. The lid ensures that food is not heaped up too high. Properly filled, each plate provides about 500 calories, with portions and proportions consistent with the food pyramid and U.S. dietary guidelines.
Women are advised to eat three plates a day (1,500 calories), while men are allowed four. The meat portion is 2 ounces, smaller than a deck of cards. The rest of the plate is filled with fruits, vegetables and grains, with dairy on the side. The dish can be filled with food ahead of time and refrigerated for a meal at work or away from home. Gorman recently has developed heart-healthy, vegetarian, diabetic and children’s discs. A low-carbohydrate disc is available as well, although its guidelines are not as drastic as popular low-carbohydrate diets, says Brenkus.
Interest in the device has exploded since spring, when it was featured in Prevention magazine. Plans for an infomercial and a book are in the works. The exposure also has sparked interest among health professionals. The Diabetes Prevention Project, a grant-funded national study aimed at preventing new cases of diabetes, has purchased 1,000 units. Gorman is working with a group at Akron Children’s Hospital that plans to use the dish in treating overweight families. Health-care providers with nutritional expertise, such as dietitians, often use the plates without the inserts in order to train clients in recognizing appropriate portion sizes.
Is Perfect Portions the answer to every dieter’s dilemma? That depends. If what you’re planning to eat fits in the plate, you’ll probably lose the weight – but much of what we actually eat will never get there. Americans are eating out more and more, and super-sized, fat-laced restaurant meals tend to reinforce portion distortion. Gorman includes a dining-smart card with guidance about food choices and meat portions in restaurants, as well as advice on how to make room for occasional treats. But if you eat out often, you will have to apply the same old discipline. Same if you’re a midnight snacker (or weekend beer drinker).
But this gadget is an excellent template on which to model long-term eating habits. If portion size is your problem – and for many of us, it is – for about $12.95 the product is worth a try.