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