Eating habits still surprising

We continue to be surprised at the eat­ing habits of Americans who, by now, should know better, but we are not sur­prised, and probably will continue to be not surprised, at how the great American corporate world that not only encourages us to eat poorly but actively convinces us to do it.

This quote from food expert Liz Barbo­ur at a recent Mindful Eating event at the Hollis Social Library seems to sum it up:

"There are companies whose whole existence is to manipulate portion size," she said.

Why? In order to get us to eat more. Why? Because the more we eat, the more corporate America can sell to us.

So come one, folks, help the economy: Eat. More. Lots more.

According to Barbour, who recently did a cooking demonstration at the Amherst Town Library, 20 years ago, the average bagle was three inches in diameter and weighed in at 140 calories. Today? Yikes: bagels are 350 calories each and six inch­es wide.

Here we honestly wonder why. Sup­pose you had a package of six three-inch, 140 calorie bagels and you ate one. If you were still hungry, you’d eat another. Three such eating sessions and guess what? You’d have to buy another package of bagels, thus putting more money into the coffers of the bagel maker.

Today, if you have a package of six 340-calorie bagels, you probably only eat one (we hope), so it would take you twice as long to go through the package and head for the store for another.

Doesn’t it make sense to provide you with smaller portions so that you will buy more? What are we missing here?

Barbour cited a Cornell University study in which food psychologist Brian Wansink found that people eat more when they are eating from large contain­ers, as if it is their duty to do so.

"Big packages imply what is a normal amount to eat," Barbour said.

And we fall for it.

But we’ve always fallen for such things. Once upon a time, the corporate mantra, imprinted upon various products, was "New and Improved." Really? Well, may­be a tweak here and there. And we fell for it: If it’s new and improved, it must be better than whatever it is I’m using.

Barbour gave some commonsense tips, provided in our story in last week’s Cabi­net (you can find it at and we’d all be wise to heed them.

Friends, none of us can exercise enough to burn on so many bagel calories. One bagel, for most of us, equals more than an hour of spinning. That’s a lot of peddling.