Chew on This

Dining out? Doggy bags are a great way to avoid eating too much

There is probably not too much opposition to the comment that the more food we see on our plate the more we eat. And a follow-up to that is that when we go out to eat, and spend hard-earned money, we want to feel as if we are getting our money’s worth. I totally get it. But this is a situation that can lead to overeating.

Sheah Rarback.jpg
Sheah Rarback

Researchers from Penn State University looked at this situation and published useful research in a recent issue of Appetite.

This study consisted of 58 women, ages 18-60. The control group was served a tasty meal of commonly consumed foods. The experimental group members were served the same meal, but at the beginning of the meal were told they would be given a to-go container for their leftovers.

The subjects dined at the lab four times during a month and portions grew at each visit. They started with a dinner of 828 calories and ended with a dinner of 1449 calories. As the meals grew in size, the amount of calories increased for both groups — but much less for the group with the to-go containers.

At the meal where the amount served was 150 percent of the original meal, the control group ate an extra 105 calories, whereas the group with the to-go containers only ate an extra 19 calories. And feelings of hunger, fullness and meal properties were the same for both groups.

You don’t need to overeat to enjoy a meal, and if you take extras home, you will be reducing food waste.

The original take-out containers popularized during World War II were called doggy bags and the scraps and bones were meant for Fido. In the 1970s, etiquette columns frowned on their use. Thank goodness we are past that pettiness. Taking food home is a great strategy to avoid overeating, reduce food waste and enjoy a delicious meal the next day with little effort.