Saturday, July 12, 2014
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Smaller portions and eating enjoyment

The most renown and costly restaurants in the world are serving meals in the form of a variety of smaller-portioned foods that each give the same amount of pleasure in a single serving as you can experience in double that amount, according to research by Paul Rozin, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania.

Smaller portions and eating enjoyment

Editor's note: Diane Girardot is sending dispatches from the American Psychological Association conference in Orlando, Fla. from August 2-5.

By Diane Russell Girardot, L.P.C.

Mozart was only listened to by a small audience at first.  Over time his music became a standard in concert halls across the globe. Can we hope for the same when it comes to modern cuisine?  

The most renown and costly restaurants in the world are serving meals in the form of a variety of smaller-portioned foods that each give the same amount of pleasure in a single serving as you can experience in double that amount, according to research by Paul Rozin, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. This “eat less of more things” trend is just beginning to trickle down to more affordable middle-priced restaurants, he says, but has the potential to change the food culture in big ways.

“One of the greatest pleasures is food,” he stated at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Conference Friday in Orlando, Fla.  “Give more variety to give more pleasure.” This sampling strategy can be seen in play in other areas, including how we listen to music now through random internet playlists like Pandora or Sirius. 

American meals have a traditional order - appetizer, entree, dessert.  But dessert isn’t coming up as the favorite part of the meal. Results from a recent study show an evolution in food culture that puts enjoyment of the main course at the end of a meal, like a Mozart final climax, he points out.  And, an overwhelming majority of the world’s top chefs at a gathering three weeks ago in Denmark responded to a survey given by Rozin that appetizers are often their favorite and most memorable foods.  

Variations in how we orchestrate a meal, Rozin says, illustrate a modern cuisine model which is best for memory and pleasure. And, the memory of the pleasure of the food is no different, he says, from whether you had one or two servings, supporting the notion of sampling smaller portions.  

Rozin also spoke about French culture historically eating smaller portions and weighing less than Americans in spite of their rejection of low-fat foods. “Fruit, yogurts, coca-cola in French supermarkets are all packaged in smaller proportions,” he said. He pointed out statistics comparing weights of French fast and take out foods to the U.S., which found that French servings weigh less.

Diane Russell Girardot is a Chester County-based licensed mental health professional, who is a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter now merging both careers with her coverage of the APA convention.


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