Art reflecting our eating habits?

After flipping through a recent edition of Science News Magazine, I came across an interesting article. Over the years, we’ve been told that we’re eating too much, and we’re hearing a lot about portion size being the biggest culprit.  Many health and fitness experts will tell you that changing the size of your plate can drastically reduce what you eat….so instead of eating off a regular 8″ dinner plate, you might switch to a 6″, or even smaller.  That way, it tricks your mind into thinking you have a full meal and you’ll eat less. After all, didn’t our mothers always tell us to eat everything on our plates?

Antonio Calanni, AP

Now, a study in a recent International Journal of Obesity by brothers Craig and Brian Wansink , claims that our choice of plate size is also reflected in art, specifically in versions of The Last Supper.  Over the centuries, they claim that the dish size in the paintings grew relative to head size in art. The brothers claim this probably reflects our growing meal portions, as well.

After flipping through the book The Last Supper,  a collection of paintings based on the famous meal, the brothers were able to trace the idea of food consumption/plate size with various time periods. They couldn’t use all of the paintings as references, due to a clear visual of the plates or lack of specific dating, but once they went through 52 pieces, they measured entrees, bread and plate size relative to head sizes and came up with their clear answer: the plates were getting larger, just as we were growing larger as people.

If you’d like to read more about this fascinating idea, there are a few links to articles here and here. You can also hear more from the Wansink brothers themselves in this YouTube video:

We have plenty of books in the library on diet and exercise, if you’re interested in learning more about eating healthy and eating smarter.  I know I’m going to look twice at the size of my plate from now on.