One thing that I’ve struggled with for some time is controlling my portion sizes when I eat. I tend to eat Goliath sized portions, fit for a giant.
One thing we’ve done at times in our house is to buy foods packaged in smaller portions. We buy the 100 calorie packs, smaller versions of candy bars for treats, etc. Our reasoning was that we were eating less and limiting our consumption of unhealthy foods. But what is the flipside – is it really all that beneficial?
I was just reading on the Chicago Tribune’s website an article about package sizes, and how it affects our consumption:
In theory, buying mini-packages of food should help us eat less.
But these cute little versions might actually have the opposite effect because it’s hard to limit consumption, according a study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
In fact, the belief that it will be easier to control your appetite with individually wrapped, single portions may backfire and increase consumption, according to researchers from Tilburg Unverisity in the Netherlands.
“When tempting products came in large package formats, consumers deliberated most before consumption, were least likely to consume, and consumed the least. This illustrates how small temptations can remain undetected (“flying under the radar”) and large package formats may reduce consumption as a result of the experienced self-control conflict,” they wrote.
Tempting products in smaller packages cost more, so in addition to eating more, we’re also more likely spending more money, the researchers added.
I wasn’t involved in the study, but I probably should have been. I haven’t purchased a regular-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in decades. But I think nothing of eating five to 10 miniature Reese’s at one sitting. (To relieve the guilt I hide the wrappers.)
Interesting, so buying smaller packages actually may backfire and cause increased consumption because of the decreased guilt factor. We feel better about eating them because they’re smaller – but in the end we end up eating more anyway.
What do you think about this, have you experienced this in your own life?
Frugal Dad says
I have struggled with this in the past – eating a couple 100 calorie packs before bed. 200 calories, and about 40 carbs later it occurred to me that it was probably the worst 200 calories I could have eaten. I could have had tons of sliced turkey, or a bowl of cottage cheese, or a protein shake for the equivalent number calories.
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I agree completely. I’ll eat 2 or 3 of these hundred calorie packs before bed – after all they’re only 100 calories (a piece)!