A letter written in the February 17, 2009 Annals of Internal Medicine examined 18 classic recipes found in seven editions (1936 to 2006) of the famous “Joy of Cooking” cookbook. It found that calorie counts for 14 of the recipes have ballooned by an average of 928 calories, or 44%, per recipe. Yep, you heard that right – 44%! And, unfortunately, serving sizes for many of the recipes also increased. Overall, scientists found that changes in ingredients and serving sizes led to a 63% increase in calories per serving in 17 of the recipes between 1936 and 2006. Similar findings were also found in other cookbooks, such as Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.
The scientists found that some of the added calories came from substitutions of ingredients like extra meat and fewer vegetables – the exact opposite of what is recommended for a heart-healthy lifestyle. They also stated that family size has gotten smaller over time, so a recipe that used to feed eight people now feeds four. What’s more, because our plates have gotten progressively larger in diameter over the years, making what you dole out on your plate seem a bit small relative to the plate.
So what’s the moral of the story? Should we now avoid eating out and eating in? What is a person to do? First of all, don’t panic! A little common sense and some recipe tweaking can go a long way. For example, if a recipe calls for 16 ounces of meat, cut it back to 12 and add more vegetables; where whole or 2% milk or other dairy is used, try 1% or skim; and, unless it’s a baked good, you can always find ways to use healthier fats (like olive and canola oil) and less of them in most recipes. In the end the portion size is entirely up to what you put on your dinner plate….consider adding a wee bit more in the veggie department and you should be well on your way to proper portion control.
Click here for more information on nutrition strategies. To make an appointment with a registered dietitian, call the Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology - 216.444.9353 or 800.223.2273 ext. 9353. Or, get a nutrition consultation online with our private and secure MyConsult Nutrition Consultation.
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Written by Melissa Ohlson, M.S, R.D., L.D., Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation.