A good piece on the psychology of serving size and expectations, and an example by one restaurant chain of how to ‘nudge’ behaviour towards more healthy portions (reverse ‘supersize’) and how to develop social conformity in a new direction. The ‘big gulp’ ban in NYC is another example. Quote:
A simple trip to a chain restaurant will often show most other diners devouring portions that are much too large and calorie-heavy than would be recommended for a healthful diet. But very rarely do people explicitly request smaller portions. Riis and his colleagues have completed studies at Panda Express, a chain Asian fast food restaurant, showing that customers will often accept an offer to reduce the size of a calorie-filled side dish (such as rice) to cut more than 200 calories out of their meal (some also received a small discount on the meal for doing so). The offer was much more successful than menu calorie labeling at getting customers to eat lower-calorie lunches.
This downsizing option, modeled off of the infamous “supersize” era of McDonald’s meal upsells, has yet to catch on outside of the experimental realm. But Riis hopes that calling these more appropriately proportioned portions “right-size”—or something to that effect—will eventually “become part of the standard script” at restaurants “so you don’t feel like a weirdo” having to ask for a smaller helping. It would take a lot of work and adjustment, he noted, but “changing defaults to smaller portions” could make a big difference in how much we end up consuming when we go out to eat—which could also translate to more healthful portions at home, too.