Don’t Diet, Just Eat Smaller Portions

By Shlomo  Maital

    Yesterday, I listened to the BBC World Service program The Food Chain.  It brought some very useful pragmatic advice:

   “Serving sizes have increased dramatically in recent decades. It’s happened so subtly that many of us simply don’t realize, but it’s having a serious impact on our health and our planet. So, how can we reverse it?”

     Fast food portions a la Big Mac, and enormous restaurant portions, have grown enormously, almost without our noticing it.  BBC journalist Emily Thomas reports on “how food manufacturers and clever marketers have nudged us into buying ever larger portions, leveraging ultracheap ingredients and our own psychology.” 

      And worse —  it has crept into our homes “…where many of us have lost any concept of what an appropriate portion is.”

       Later in the broadcast, an INSEAD marketing expert offered some cool simple advice.  He is Pierre Chandon, professor of marketing and director of the INSEAD Sorbonne University Behavioural Lab, Paris.   It is this:

       As economists explain, there is a law of diminishing marginal utility.  That first spoon of ice cream?  Wow.  The next.  Less wow.  The last, especially if the dish is enormous …well, ugh…I’m stuffed.  So in truth we really do not get much extra pleasure from the last bites of huge portions.

      So at home, make smaller portions.  A single scoop of ice cream, not two.  Notice how much less food you waste (studies show a third to a half of food consumed at home is just thrown away – perfectly edible stuff!  A Haifa U. researcher scrounged through garbage cans to prove it!). 

      And at restaurants?  Ask for half portions.  Order kids’ size.  And if this is impossible – do not shrink from leaving half the food on your plate. 

       Personally, I HATE hate hate to waste food.  But there may be no choice.  If it harms your health, and if it is not pleasurable …why succumb to the wiles and profit greed of businesses?   Why not fight back? 

        Dieting is tough and often doesn’t work.  So why do it?  Why not just consume less, without in any way impinging on our enjoyment of the meal, and maybe, increasing it.

          Thanks BBC.   Now – regulators,  are you listening?  Do you know how much those huge fast food portions and enormous drink sizes are costing society, in terms of healthcare costs?