Do You Want Fewer Fries With That?


Make no mistake ... we Americans are a piggy, piggy people. Study after study has shown that no matter how much food we're given, we'll do our best to eat everything set before us. Maybe that comes from our "clean plate club" culture or just the fact that food tastes good, and so if given the chance, you're going to stuff down as much as you can.

Even knowing exactly how many calories are in a serving of whatever we're about to eat doesn't stop us ... people will actually say, "Oh, that sandwich is only 800 calories? Yes, I do believe I'll have that cookie on the side, then." When New York City began requiring restaurants to post calories counts on their menu boards, people actually ate more.

And looking at our ever-expanding waistlines, that's a bad thing. However, scientists have discovered one thing that seems to work in getting people to make healthier choices.

It's offering a half-portion of fatty side dishes like fries. 

They followed people who were eating at a fast-food Chinese restaurant at a college campus, and asked them if they wanted a smaller portion of the entree or of a side dish. People wanted the full portion of the main, but if they were offered a half portion of fries, for example, almost half of them accepted.

I wish more restaurants did this. No one wants to waste food so we end up eating more food than we need, but we don't want to forgo the fries or whatever entirely. Paying for half a portion saves money and calories, but still allows us a satisfactory taste of whatever we crave.

Interestingly, once the restaurant studied stopped asking people about the half portions, people stopped ordering them. Maybe it's because they don't want to seem cheap or make a fuss, but once people stopped having the option presented to them, they didn't ask for it on their own.

Would you want a half-portion from your favorite restaurant?

Image via Keith McDuffee(gudlyf)/Flickr

diets, eating healthy, nutrition


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miche... micheledo

If it cost less, I would absolutely get a half portion!  I usually don't order fries anymore and just eat a few from my kids plates.  I figure we are all better off for that.  And if we go to McDonalds, I order one large fry and we all share it.

However if they didn't significantly lower the price, I would still order the full portion and take the rest home.

hotic... hoticedcoffee

You can order a half portion anywhere you eat, but for many people paying less is a higher priority than not over-eating. I asked for smaller side portions all the time, especially with items I know I'll just keep eating until all gone.  No restaurant is going to argue with giving you less while charging you the same, and some will discount it if you're a regular customer with good rapport.  My family frequents a diner in town - great fresh food, but typical diner fare with huge portions of calorie dense stuff.  We go at least 6 times a month.  I usually order my meal "skinny",  and they basically bring me a child size portion of the sides, which is perfect, and often discount my meal to a 'senior citizen' meal (which is about 15% off, and I appreciate the gesture).

Katt709 Katt709

I would be all for half portions. Or just all around smaller portions on everything. I usually end up taking home half of whatever I order for lunch or dinner the next day. I also usually only order things from the menu that will re-heat well. Which tends to limit my selections - and I don't like that! I'd love to be able to get half portions of everything, then I wouldn't have to worry about re-heating and could order whatever I wanted!

frysh... fryshannon34

I would go for half the fries

jalaz77 jalaz77

Half-yes. I usually throw half of my FF away anyways!

Peajewel Peajewel

Half portions are a good idea.  We usually split fries and things like that any way.

Amy Knoch

I'd go for half portions or healthier sides if they'd stop charging so much for them.

If you go to applebee's and order a full sized dinner salad - it costs you $10.  The half sized salad costs $8.  Not enough savings to bother getting half the food. 

If you order a burger, but want steamed veggies on the side instead of the heaping helping of fries, they charge you more for the veggies *(even though the veggies cost significantly less both in terms of materials cost and cooking). 

It would be great if they'd fix how they charge for food, as well as making the portions smaller and adjusting the costs accordingly.  I'm not willing to pay full price for half the food, or twice as much for a healthier side dish that costs half as much to make.

tazdvl tazdvl

I think portions of everything needs to be cut back. There are to many people who don't want to waste food or take it with them and there are still those that don't think they are over eating. IMO there is no difference going to a sit down restaurant and eating everything on your plate then going to a fast food joint.

MrsCh... MrsChurch

I would love half portions! The only good thing (for me) with the huge portions at restaurants is I get two meals for one price!


There are times when I do wish portions were smaller,  but I am all about taking home my food to make two meals out of it.

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