Take Smaller Bites! Why Bite-Sized Foods Are Better
by Eric Steinman
So much of the recent concern and debate over nutrition and obesity has centered on the issue of portion size. With much of the fast food/junk food industry marketing bigger is better, it is hard not to conclude that the opposite might be true – small is preferable. Maybe a slider is better than a Big Mac, and a bite of chocolate is better than a whole bar. Now, seemingly, there is conclusive scientific proof that smaller bites are better than a mouthful.
Researchers at Arizona State University investigated how the size and number of food pieces affected human satisfaction and the human reward mechanism. The researchers found that smaller pieces of food are more “rewarding” and lead to a greater feeling of fullness than one large piece of food with equal energy values. A food portion cut into multiple bite-sized pieces may look more voluminous and will elicit greater satisfaction than the same portion presented as a single large piece. This means that a plate of cute little pizza slices will be infinitely more rewarding to a hungry person than just four massive slices of pizza. This is good news for the calorie-conscious who want to provide a more satisfying dining experience – just cut everything up into smaller, bite-sized, pieces (if only it were that easy).
While this theory does hold some water, it is not clear whether we are looking at a future of mini-everything. Sure it would likely be better for portion control and sensible eating (not to mention a boon to marketers selling bite-sized pieces at a premium), but we humans are hungry animals with an unyielding desire for the grand offering.
What are your thoughts on smaller portions of food being inherently more rewarding than big servings? Have you found this to be true for yourself? What are some of your favorite small bites?