Kate Harding wrote a post about restaurant portion sizes, and how you don’t get to go “OMG, that’s why ur all so fat hur hur” in the very same breath as you’re noticing that people take leftovers home. That is, they’re generally *not* finishing that ginormous portion. Though, to be fair to the person who posted it, lots of people *here* fail to grasp the same concept and go on and on about the evils of portion sizes–yes, you get a freaking boat ton of food at a lot of restaurants; that doesn’t mean you have to eat it all. Honestly, I’d rather get too much than not enough, because I can almost always take leftovers home–if I’m still hungry, I have to order (and pay for, and wait for) something else.
I know they’ve done studies where people’s sense of how much they’ve eaten varies dramatically based on things like plate size and whether you’re eating out of a big communal bowl (of chips or popcorn, say) or an individual bowl or plate. The thing I have to wonder is how such an experiment would turn out if you controlled for dieting behaviors or an eating competence score. My theory is that the more you focus on external cues, whether that’s a calorie count or the amount of food on your plate, the less attention you pay to your own satiety signals. So, I’m thinking that people who have been doing intuitive eating for a while would be less affected by things like plate size than someone who hasn’t.
Granted, distraction plays a role too. One of the things that I’ve been working on lately is trying to take time at work to just sit and eat, rather than multitasking, especially if I’m eating something particularly filling. Because if I’m just eating and not paying attention, I go past comfortable and straight over to stuffed before I even notice. Though I will say that on the occasions when I do that, it’s a relief to think of it as a learning experience, rather than an “I’ve wrecked my diet and I’m a horrible person” experience. And it doesn’t happen often.