A recent study is proof in the bowl: When we have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of foods, we tend to overindulge, and at least one reason for this is that more variety causes us to think there is less food on our plates!

Joseph Redden, Assistant Professor of Marketing at University of Minnesota, asked study participants to pour candy into a bowl until they thought it contained the same amount as a sample bowl of M&Ms (hmm…we seem to spend a lot of time talking about M&Ms here!).

The size of the sample bowl was about a quarter cup. He found that people poured 12% more M&Ms into their bowl when the candy was multi-colored, as compared to when they were asked to pour only a single-colored serving of M&Ms. This confirms that having variety leads people to pour more candy, presumably because variety makes it seem like there is a smaller portion or quantity. Twelve percent doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but if we overestimated everything we ate by 12%, we would stand to gain around 20 lb per year

So… should we eat in monocolor, monotaste, and monotony? No. Eating is a part of life and a part of culture, and part of the enjoyment is the marriage of different smells in the air and looks on your plate, into an unforgettable gustatory experience in your mouth! The point is to be aware of the human tendency to portion more when more food variety is available. Keep a check on your own behaviors when you are presented with several different food choices. Just because many choices are offered, does not mean that you have to taste them all – consider limiting yourself to just tasting a few. Keep a close eye on the total portion on your plate, and even after you are convinced that you have not over portioned yourself, consider removing 10-20% of it after that! Eat slowly – it takes 10-15 minutes after you start eating for the hormones from your intestines to tell your brain that you are full. Give them a chance to speak! Finally, don’t get up for seconds, and if you do, go for the FreeVeg!
Dr. Sue