Does Quantity Matter in Food Satisfaction?
Many Americans associate success with abundance- measured by the quantity of any given thing.
The majority of us like a good deal - getting the best value for our money. In the food scene, this phenomenon translates into larger plates, larger cups, larger bags, larger meals, and some leftovers that we can take home.
Are quantity and size the best indicators to determine how much happiness, enjoyment, and value we get from a meal?
During my research on the topic, I came across an article published by the Harvard Business Review titled "The Reasons We Buy (and Eat) Too Much Food." The author, Pierre Chandon, a professor at INSEAD and the INSEAD-Sorbonne Behavioral Lab director, had spent ten years studying how people choose how much indulgent food to eat.
Chandon’s main finding was that ‘people overwhelmingly focus on a) the fear of being hungry and b) value for money, which both lead to choosing large portions.’ In a series of studies conducted in the US with Yann Cornil, a professor at the University of British Columbia, they found that ‘people neglect to consider the role of pleasure when choosing between a small or a large portion.'
This finding is incredibly eye-opening because Professor Chandon’s research also shows that the real pleasure of eating is not related to a larger portion size:
It turns out that the first bite of anything is the most pleasurable. Every additional bite, while still enjoyable, provides less pleasure than the preceding one. This is a universal phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. What is less well known, and mostly unanticipated, is that it is the last bite that determines our overall satisfaction with the food that we have eaten. And when the portion is large, the final taste of it is now pretty bland and eats away at our entire evaluation of the consumption experience.
If size and quantity are not the main drivers of food satisfaction, what are they? How can we get more people interested in eating smaller portions which are more satisfying and nutritious?
The satisfaction someone experiences eating a particular food can be influenced by using a combination of cognitive, sensory, and physiological signals. Multisensory imagery beyond size can lead people to choose foods that appear satisfying and abundant in their own way.
We say that people eat with their eyes because most of the stimulus our brain receives before we eat something come from the visual information our brain receives from our eyes. However, our visual experience is not limited to the size or quantity of the food we see, many other sensory and cognitive signals can enhance the perception of abundance and can help nudge people to choose foods that appear abundant despite being smaller in size. Such sensory and cognitive signals include the smell of food, its texture (the more texture, the more perceived satisfaction), visual cues indicating abundance of ingredients, arrangement of the food, the storytelling of the ingredients, and other food stories, which frame the more extensive food experience.
Why is decoding the signals of ‘abundance’ and food satisfaction important for Future Fit Foods?
The idea that the good life is built around a world of abundance and endless resources, not bound by limits, has led to the proliferation of empty foods, food waste, single-use packaging waste, and climate change from industrial farming.
At Future Fit Foods, we are committed to creating a new generation of convenience foods that deliver more enjoyment and value within planetary boundaries. We are excited with the opportunity to inspire people to reimagine ‘abundance’ through our new foods in the pipeline, providing quality eating experiences, delivering nutrient density that help cover their baseline and making it easy and rewarding for everyone to contribute to eating within planetary boundaries.
So, does quantity matter in food satisfaction? What examples have you seen of how ‘abundance’ is being reimagined in food?