The portions seem large, is this normal?

Updated by Steven Todd Smith

When transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle from the standard American diet, one of the first things you’ll notice is is a lot more food on your plate!

Whole plant foods are less calorie-dense (and more nutrient-dense) than most packaged foods and many foods typically found in the standard American diet. For example, while one slice of pizza can carry the caloric load of 275 calories, one sweet potato has only about 115 calories.

Though the amount of food on your plate may be greater than you’re used to, the total caloric load will be less.

Because the meals are filled with fiber—which soaks up water and expands, engaging the stretch receptors in the  stomach—we feel fuller, faster. Fiber has no calories, yet it takes up a lot of room and creates a feeling of fullness, so we end up eating less over time.

We cover this topic in greater detail in the following articles:

How Eating More Can Help You Weigh Less
The Calorie Density Approach to Nutrition and Lifelong Weight Management

Though our recipes are naturally higher in volume, keep in mind that what we consider a serving for a recipe will not be the ideal serving for every age or body type. You should never force yourself to eat more than is comfortable - simply save the rest of the meal for another time. Since our meals consist of lower-calorie density ingredients, you may find that you are satiated with only half of what we’ve identified as a serving but are hungry again an hour or two later. In these cases, some people find it works better to eat several times throughout the day, while others will find comfort by slowly adjusting to a larger volume at mealtime. There is no "right" answer - we believe the best approach is to take the time to find what works best for you.

In summary, with a whole-food, plant-based diet, it's recommended to eat until comfortably satiated instead of counting calories or worrying about prescribed serving sizes.

Other considerations

We also want to draw your attention to a few Forks Meal Planner details that may help you as you prepare your meals:

  1. You are able to customize your general servings and individual recipe servings to suit your needs/preferences. Please note the full serving and half serving options you can use as options. Oftentimes, a full serving would represent an adult serving while a half serving would represent a child serving. You can use these accordingly or however they work best for your circumstances.
  2. Weekly recipes are typically doubled in your plan by default. We do this to help minimize the amount of time you spend cooking throughout the week. The idea is you’d make double the recipe when you cook the first time, so you can reheat the leftovers for another healthy meal. If you are a couple, for instance, you could make 4 servings of a recipe on day 1 and eat the remaining 2 servings on another day.

With that in mind, if you notice that the portions for a dish seem surprisingly large, check the servings on the recipe to ensure you were not also making leftovers.

If the portions still seem far too large after you’ve considered all of the above, do let us know by rating the overall recipe and then providing feedback on the serving size. This will alert our team to any issues so we can investigate further.

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