Even if you don’t believe in evolution as Charles Darwin explains it, you must acknowledge that our food portion sizes have evolved up. And so have our bodies, in both height and girth. But we can’t blame these indulgences on recent developments, according to a new study published in the April 2010 issue of the International Journal of Obesity.
The study, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, as reported on WebMD suggests that portion sizes have increased “gradually over the last 1,000 years.” To prove it, the authors, brothers Brian and Craig Wansink, examined 52 of the most famous paintings of The Last Supper completed between the years 1000 and 2000. They found the portion sizes of fish, lamb, pork, and bread on the plates of the disciples increased significantly over the years; their plates were 66 percent larger in the later paintings.
Larger plates mean we pile more on. And we eat what’s on our plates “because there are starving children in [insert China, Africa, or whatever place your mother told you children were starving] .”
If the disciples, and Jesus, are eating more, then why can’t I? Well, you know I know the answer to that–because it’s art, not real life. In the famous paintings, the disciples can eat larger portions yet remain the same size throughout millennia. But me? I have to buy stretchy polyester pants. And huff as I climb the stairs.
A portion of lean beef, chicken or a hamburger should be the size of a deck of cards (in one stack, not scattered over the table); a bagel should be the size of a six-ounce can of tuna; a bowl of cereal should be the size of a baseball; a potato the size of a computer mouse.
As I sit here eating a salad the size of my head, which is not the size of a baseball, I think I’ll make an Easter resolution. Even though Lent has passed and the time for rejoicing and celebration is here, I’m going to try to be more mindful and watchful of my portion sizes.
Terri Lackey is managing editor of Lutheran Woman Today magazine.