From Our 2009 Archives

Too Much 'Joy' in Cookbook Calories?

Study Shows Ballooning Portion Size, Heftier Ingredients in Classic Recipes

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 17, 2009 -- Calorie counts in several classic recipes have crept up over the years, and it may be time for those recipes to go back to the future.

That's according to Brian Wansink, PhD, of Cornell University and Collin Payne, PhD, of New Mexico State University.

"The serving size and calorie composition of classic recipes needs to be downsized to counteract growing waistlines," Wansink and Payne write in a letter published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Wansink and Payne reviewed seven editions of The Joy of Cooking, looking for recipes published in each edition (printed in 1936, 1946, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1997, and 2006).

Only 18 recipes qualified: chicken gumbo, corn chowder, plain omelet, Spanish rice, chicken a la king, goulash, biscuits, blueberry muffins, cornbread, brownies, sugar cookies, rice pudding, tapioca pudding, baked macaroni, waffles, apple pie, chocolate cake, and chili con carne.

Average calories per serving increased for 17 of those 18 recipes since the 1936 edition. That's due to a shift to larger serving sizes and higher-calorie ingredients in those recipes.

Of course, heftier portion sizes aren't unique to those recipes, or to any particular cookbook. Wansink has reported many times on ballooning serving sizes -- and how we tend to eat what's in front of us. That can work to your advantage if you're trying to eat more vegetables, but it can also be a diet disaster if you've got a tub of brownies in view. For more information on portion sizes, visit the WebMD Portion Size Plate.

SOURCES: Wansink, B. Annals of Internal Medicine, Feb. 17, 2009; vol 150: p 291.

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