A couple of University of Illinois professors got to thinking while they were enjoying lunch at an off-campus fast food emporium: what would happen if part of the restaurant were a little quieter, a little nicer, but with the same food?
Both men have since left the U. of I., but not before conducting research in a Hardee’s in Champaign. A former “smoking room” was classed up with indirect lighting, tablecloths, and soft jazz. Koert Van Ittersum, now an associate professor of marketing at Georgia Tech, says the result was that people in the “nicer” part of the restaurant spent a little more time – but ate a little less.
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The research showed that the people in the “nicer” room ate 18 percent less food than did the diners in the “regular” part of the restaurant. Van Ittersum says the finding confirms what the diet-and-nutrition people are always saying: eating slowly lets your stomach tell you when it’s full. When that happens, stop eating.
“Take the time to eat your dinner. Take time to sit down with the family, as opposed to standing at the kitchen counter and chowing it down in a few minutes. Take the time to sit, enjoy your food, and chew your food well, and listen to your body,” Van Ittersum says. “If your body says you’ve had enough, then stop eating. In the long run, we’ll all be better off.”