So why can’t we seem to recognize that we’re eating super-size style? Our brains are super easy to trick into thinking those massive meals are “normal.” A few facts…
People eat more of both entrees and snacks when provided larger portions, and this applies to both children and adults. In addition, young women have been shown in research to eat more when they were with another individual who was consuming larger portions – so your friends’ choices may subtlety impact yours!
Drawing awareness to portions can help people control their snack portions. One interesting study examined individuals eating pringles-type potato chips while watching a movie. The researchers had a control group with a regular tube of chips, but also had an experimental group that had a red potato chip inserted every so many chips. In the experimental group, chip consumption was actually reduced by more than 50%! The authors concluded that segmentation cues “may operate by any or all of 3 mechanisms: (a) they call attention to and encourage better monitoring of eating, (b) they suggest smaller consumption (portion size) norms, or (c) they break automated eating sequences by introducing a pause.”
People subconsciously consider units of food as well as food weight/calories. Sound funny? Consider this study: researchers had study participants play an unrelated computer game and put a bowl of candies out in front of them. One group got bowls with whole candies, while the other group got a bowl with candies cut in half. The results? The group with the candies cut in half consumed half as much candy. Something in our brains may tell us that eating a certain number of a food or snack is appropriate, regardless of the size.
Next newsletter, we’ll share some fun tips for reducing portion distortion and practicing healthier eating!