Portions We tend to eat what’s on our plate. Most of us have a hard time stopping at satiety or assessing caloric count; we therefore rely on outside cues and eat the unit offered, believing that that unit is what normal people eat.

So restaurants influence how much we’ll eat just by deciding the serving sizes, and those are unpredictable and range from petite to colossal. A study published last year surveyed 245 restaurant chains and found that entrees averaged 674 calories, appetizers 813 calories, sides 260 calories, salads 496 calories, drinks 419 calories, and desserts 429 calories. Combine just two portions and you’re way over the Institute of Medicine’s recommended 640 per meal, and these calorie counts are averages — Olive Garden’s Chicken Alfredo has 1,540 calories a plate.

A new commentary by Deborah Cohen and Mary Story in the American Journal of Public Health has an interesting suggestion: Let’s standardize portion sizes in restaurants.

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