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Counting Calories: Do You Want a Half-Order of Fries With That?

Few relationships are as complex as the one we have with food.

We love it we hate it, we veer from overcontrolling with restrictive diets, to out of control with Mint M&Ms (my addiction).

We know what we should do. But why we don’t do the right things is a riddle wrapped in an enigma dipped in secret sauce, and it appears connected to everything from socioeconomics to scheduling.

For example, if calorie counts were listed on fast food menus, the thinking went, we’d make better choices, getting Little Macs instead of Grandes, and a cellophane packet of strangely preserved apple slices instead of French fries.

Or not.

I’ve been rummaging around in research about doing the right thing, eating-wise, and it is complicated.

-3 Comments to
Counting Calories: Do You Want a Half-Order of Fries With That?

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  1. Wansink has done some interesting research in the area of Mindful and Mindless eating, which you are probably aware. There is a growing body of research investigating cognitive/ behavioral nutrition. I think this line of research will be huge in the following years. I think most people know that ingesting cals below maintenance level is the primary determinant of weight loss. The question is how do we get them to do that without thinking to much?

    • Yes, I agree–it’s already starting with, for example, the 100 calorie snack packs of cookies, popcorn, etc. Of course. they don’t work if you eat four at a sitting. Back when we actually were served food on airplanes, I would sometimes immediately smash the bag of chips to crumbs so I wouldn’t eat them.

      Wasink’s work is fascinating and I will reference it in my next post.

  2. A recent post at my site that may interest you:

    Variety increases food consumption

  3. I’m all for small portions and plates, but a good number of my new weight-management clients report downing many small portions in one sitting, or taking second, third and fourth helpings on small plates. Rather than restocking your cupboard with Barbie doll-sized dinnerware, try what Sophie’s suggesting: mindful eating. You’ve got nothing to lose except extra weight.
    Jean Fain, LICSW, MSW
    Author, “The Self-Compassion Diet”

    • Yeah, I’ve been taking smaller portions to begin with, but then there’s always that moment of reckoning when I decide whether or not to get another serving. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But it’s definitely extra difficult in restaurants, when they decide the size of the serving. I haven’t yet figured out how to work my “off” button when I start eating something I like.


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