I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat a muffin the size of my head.
Recently I happened upon a display case filled with beautiful muffins, bagels, and cookies of mammoth proportions. It made such an impression that it sparked a dream that night. It was one of those crazy nightmares where nothing fits quite right, and the more muffin I ate, the bigger the muffin got, until I could no longer distinguish my own head from the muffin. That’s not exactly what the term “muffin top” means, but it was disturbing nonetheless.
Like a lot of people, I’ve been noticing the increase in portion size for years now. It started off slowly, escalating step by step and inch by inch until our food portions appear to be sized for the land of the giants. Every time it seems we’ve hit the limit, they throw another layer on your sandwich. How big does a sandwich have to be, anyway?
It’s not only portion size, though, but an increase in the layers of junk thrown in. As if a breakfast pastry wasn’t already a less than optimal choice, perhaps we should add more icing, more sugar, more color, more…more…more. As long as there’s a smidgen of fruit in there so it can be labeled as “wholesome.”
It’s rare to be served a beverage in a reasonable sized glass anymore, with restaurants opting for glasses almost as big as pitchers, while dinner plates have grown to the size of serving platters.
So began my research into this thing called portion distortion. It wasn’t difficult to locate a mountain of facts about portion size and nutritional value, and the difference between what is considered normal today versus normal 20 or 30 years ago. (Oh, and it’s a big difference.) Time travelers from the 60s would certainly be in for a surprise. But all those facts and figures fall on deaf ears because we’ve ever so slowly adjusted our perceptions of normal. And, really, our own eyes and common sense tell the tale if we’ll only pay attention.
Portion distortion is costly, unhealthy, wasteful, and habit-forming, but there’s no sign that we’re going to turn the tide any time soon. In the meantime, I’ll remain wary of giant muffins.