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Our stomachs have gotten far bigger than our eyes

I don’t know what causes it, but we’ve all gotten bigger. Well, not all of us – just the majority.

Ohio freelance writer Jackie Briskey does an excellent job of explaining how this can happen and why it comes about. One of her stories appeared in Farmland News from Archbold, Ohio, this February.

Jackie mentions this year’s Super Bowl and the tendency of people to celebrate such events. She chooses to portray a different bowl instead, and writes about traditional family meals and nutritional common sense.

“I’d like to look at America’s up-sizing of food servings and the super amount of food many people are consuming, especially young children who’ve never known anything other than, `Supersize it!’” Jackie says.

Then she describes her life as a child in the mountains of Virginia – where the family grew their own vegetables, made biscuits, jams and jellies, apple butter, fried eggs, drank fresh milk and cleaned everything up after dinner.

“When they were done, we worked off the calories by doing chores that were required by our parents,” she says. “We didn’t worry about taking in too many calories. Work and play took care of that.

“While these foods weren’t the healthiest in terms of the way they were prepared, we had other food fresh from the garden to supply our daily vitamins and other nutrients.”

Briskey suggests those nutritious foods are being pushed aside by super bowls and Americans are sacrificing their health by eating too much. I see this for myself, too, and others I know. We don’t get the exercise we used to have, so we need to cut back on the food.
A story sent to daily newspapers by The Associated Press suggests the same thing. This piece implies that American cookbooks are part of the super-sizing problem.

The news report says cookbooks have increased their calories per serving about 40 percent over the past 70 years. They’ve done this by increasing portion sizes as well as caloric density.

Comments from the study’s director, Brian Wansink of Cornell University, indicate folks have learned to serve or select larger helpings at home, as well as eating out more. “So much finger-pointing is going on at away-from-home dining it really takes the focus off where we could probably have the most immediate influence,” Wansink says.

This study reports that a popular cookbook increased the listed serving size for “chicken gumbo” from 228 calories in the 1936 edition to 576 calories in the 2006 edition.

I know some folks don’t eat chicken gumbo and wouldn’t follow this recipe, so they won’t be directly affected by these numbers. We need to remember, though: It doesn’t matter how much they put in front of us – we can always send some of it back.

Readers with questions or comments for Roger Pond may write to him in care of this publication.

3/18/2009