Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eating Too Much

Last year I wrote about drinking. Without realizing it, we are drinking more than we used to because of supersized glasses.

Today, I read an article in The Wall Street Journal that the same thing is happening to food. The cuprit this time is portion distortion in recipes. A study published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine looked at how classic recipes have changed during the past 70 years. They found an almost 40% increase in calories per serving for nearly every recipe reviewed.

The study identified the trend in numerous cookbooks, but it focused on Joy of Cooking which was first published in the '30s and regularly updated with new editions since then, most recently in 2006. Of the 18 recipes published in all seven editions, 17 increased in calories per serving. That can be attributed partly to a jump in total calories per recipe, but also to larger portion sizes.

The chicken gumbo in this series went from making 14 servings at 228 calories each in 1936 to making 10 servings of 576 calories each in the 2006 version. There was also a comparison with the book's brownie recipe from the '60s and '70s to the '97 edition. It was the same recipe, same pan, but in the '60s and '70s it yielded 30 brownies. In the '97 edition, it yielded 15.

A popular chocolate chip recipe that decades earlier produced 100 cookies made only 60 cookies during the '80s although no ingredients had changed.

The moral here is, if you're using a new cookbook you may be getting more calories from a recipe than if you used an old cookbook. Time to dust off all those old cookbooks.


ms/sss said...

That JOY OF COOKING is a great book. I used it and learned to cook. It was always very reliable. Now, with the internet, you can get so much help with recipes. The only problem is that while so much information is available to us, who feels like cooking anymore!
Portions might be larger and calories might have increased, but my personal weakness is that I do not get out there and walk every day, and I should! So once again, I promise myself that I will walk first thing each morning.

HMK said...

I love the term "portion distortion"

Do you want to join the very small writing group for the Follies?
It meets tonight at 6:45
Dorothy Leibowitz is heading the group.
I decided to go after all.