Family style dinners are joyful. Mounded mashed potatoes in Gramma’s bowl, big juicy roast, glazed carrots, all in the center of the table as the chatter endlessly and lovingly sings in the air. And, the guys at the table will eat 29% more food, girls 10% more, just because the food is on the table.
Guys eat fast – they get done, they get bored, they go back for seconds, thirds, or more. Girls poke a bit.
Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University had folks eat lunch across from someone who was really a researcher – but they thought they were just another participant in a taste-testing study. The researcher was to eat 50% more slowly or 50% faster than the typical person would eat – he calls this ‘forks per minute.’
When a study participant was paired with a fast eater, they ate more calories. Likewise, they ate fewer calories with the slow poke. It’s mimicry.
So it never ends. In a buffet study, a woman behind a woman would take a portion that mimicked the serving of the first woman. No difference if that first person was a guy – who could compete with that appetite?
He went a step further. The first woman wore a fat suit. The woman behind her took even more food. Their thought was “I’m not that heavy so I can take more food.”
Moral of the Story: If you’re a guy, excuse yourself from the table when done. Put your fork down between bites, engage in conversation. For all, avoid fast eaters period – it’s challenging but you know who they are. If they are your kids, you can demonstrate and expect better manners. If you’re being served at a buffet instead of making your own choices portion-wise, assert your desire to have a smaller portion. We eat more if we are served more – but that’s another research study for another day!
From Nutrition Action newsletter, 5/11.