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Did you know restaurants follow some tricks to encourage you to eat more?  Accasian-1239311__180ording to Deborah Cohen, a physician and senior natural scientist at the RAND Corporation , a nonprofit research organization, restaurants follow these advertising tricks to get us to order and eat more.

  • They serve us bigger servings. When we see food, we usually eat all of it even if we are not hungry for that size portion.
  • We do not tend to rely on how much we have eaten during the day, or how hungry we are, when deciding quantities later in the day.
  • Combo meals portray a better value and are easy to order.  But just two items would be satisfying to many people, if they knew they could save money and calories.menu-512197_960_720
  • The “sweet spot” on the menu is in the upper right-hand corner.  More people choose items in that area of the menu.  Restaurants also know we are likely to choose items that appear first or last in a section of the menu.  Highlighted or boxed items are also chosen more often.
  • The more people you eat with, the more food you are likely to consume.
  • We tend to mimic the people we are with, it seems to be part of socializing or fitting in.
  • The more variety the more we are likely to eat. One study gave people only one type of pasta and another group three different types of pasta.  All of the pasta cookie-1125527_960_720tasted the same.  However, the group getting the three different types of pasta ate more than the one getting only one type.   The same thing happens with cookies, crackers or snack foods.
  • Showing you the desserts will get you to order dessert more often.

Will knowing this information influence our choices or actions the next time we eat out?  With restaurant meals usually 2-3 times what we should be eating remembering the tips above could help us to reduce the calories we eat at restaurants.  Since most of us eat out often, is it any wonder our society gains weight each year?

I am going to start looking at the whole menu carefully, limit combo meals, and cut portions in half putting the rest in a box for home before I start eating. What strategies are you going to use?

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University

Reviewer:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Cohen, D. (2016) It’s Hard to Eat Less When There is Too Much on Your Plate.  RAND Corporation. Available at http://www.rand.org/blog/2016/02/its-hard-to-eat-less-w hen-there-is-too-much-on-your.html

Liebman, B. (2016).  Under the Radar What made you buy (and eat) that.  Interview with Deborah Cohen, Author of A Big Fat Crisis: The Hidden Influences Behind the Obesity Epidemic – and How We Can End It (new York: Nation Books).  Nutrition Action Health Letter, Center for Science in the Public Interest March 2016. 43(2) 1,3-5.

 

 

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