Play With Your Food for Better Weight Control
Playing with portion sizes may be a better way to address weight control than trying to eliminate “bad” foods from the diet altogether. That’s the intriguing premise of a new study by researchers from Vanderbilt and Duke Universities.
Most people are interested in eating foods that balance “taste” with “health”. So-called “virtuous” foods are most attractive if they’re served with smaller portions of “vice” foods, which are judged to be of little nutritional value, yet provide rewarding characteristics, such as irresistible salty, fatty, or sweet flavors. When nutritionally-dense foods are combined with small portions of indulgent, calorie-dense foods, consumers are more likely to choose them over foods featuring only virtuous selections, or solely “sinful” foods.
The research suggests that offering packages of foods that combine vice and virtue in certain proportions may be the best approach to enable people to make beneficial changes in the diet. "We suggest a simple … solution that can help consumers who would otherwise choose vice over virtue to simultaneously increase consumption of healthy foods (virtues) and decrease consumption of unhealthy foods (vices) while still fulfilling taste goals—‘vice-virtue bundles,’"saidKelly L. Haws, of Vanderbilt. The research revealed that people have a "taste-health balance point”—a proportion of vice and virtuous foods that make up one serving—which they find satisfactory.
A sample “vice-virtue bundle” might feature mostly apple slices, with a small portion of french fries, for example. More people would be more likely to choose this package than one featuring apples alone. Likewise, people trying to improve their nutritional choices were more likely to choose the apple/fries combo than fries alone.
"Given that consumers consistently find vice-virtue bundles to be attractive, managers should consider adding vice-virtue bundles to their product lines," Haws said."For restaurants and food vendors that already offer pure vice and virtue options, vice-virtue bundles provide an opportunity for product line expansion through existing items rather than through development of completely new offerings.” This strategy may work to help people make improvements in the diet. It eliminates the need to attempt to go “cold-turkey” and forego any and all “vice” foods.
Vanderbilt University. "Size matters when convincing your brain to eat healthier foods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140811180253.htm (accessed August 13, 2014).