Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food by Rachel Herz

Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food by Rachel Herz

Author:Rachel Herz
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: food, psychology
ISBN: 9780393243314
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Published: 2017-12-26T05:00:00+00:00


EASY EATING

The ease, visibility, and access—in other words, the opportunistic availability of something to munch on—is one of the strongest influences on consumption.4 Turning this around, one way to eat fewer high-calorie treats is to make them less convenient to reach—witness the office workers with the Hershey’s Kisses. This is why dieting advice usually includes not keeping candies and chips in the cupboard—and better yet, not buying them at all—as temptation is a deadly force. If you must keep snacks on hand, putting them far away—such as in the basement—ups the ante on effort and, if you are lazy like me, may dissuade you from hunting them down. On the other hand, putting fruits and vegetables in plain sight and in highly accessible locations—your desk, beside the television or computer—is a good way to increase your intake of these healthy edibles. Moreover, since these foods are high in fiber and filling, they have the added benefits of decreasing your hunger so that you may be less motivated to seek out decadent snacks later.

Another problem with the ultra-convenience of today’s food environment is that we expend less energy in the act of meal-making and thus burn fewer calories per day than we did when we needed to trek from store to store to procure provisions—bread at the bakery, meat at the butcher, asparagus at the greengrocer’s—and then had to prepare it into a complete meal ourselves. Leaving aside the energy expended going in and out of multiple stores and hauling pounds of groceries around, simply an hour spent washing, chopping, and cooking burns at least 100 calories.5 By contrast, opening a few containers and maybe zapping them in the microwave is a trivial expenditure of energy.

The good news is that our inherent laziness can have a calorie savings effect when we are offered food in multiple small packages. For example, if we are given three small bags of potato chips we tend to eat fewer chips in total than if we were given one large bag of the same quantity. So there is actually a slimming outcome to those 100-calorie packages of snacks. Indeed, one study showed that overweight participants ate 25 percent less when they were given four 100-calorie cracker packs than when they were given one 400-calorie bag of the same cracker.6 Like the sorted jelly beans, small bags organize our food into discrete amounts which can help us put on the brakes. Another reason why small bags translate to eating less is that each package offers a specific stopping point, so you assess whether you want to continue eating or not. It also takes more effort to open a bunch of bags than to open just one. However, when small servings come with labels that exclaim they contain only 100 calories we can fall victim to what is known as the health halo effect—a term that Brian Wansink and food marketing expert Pierre Chandon of the INSEAD Sorbonne Behavioral Laboratory in France coined to describe how and why



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