More Time Between Ordering and Eating, Better Food Choices
The longer the time between ordering food and expecting to eat it, the healthier that food tends to be. That's the finding of a trio of Carnegie Mellon University studies published in the Journal of Marketing Research. The first two experiments compared how early participants ordered lunch with what they ordered. The earlier people placed their orders - from five hours in advance to 31 minutes, in one test - the fewer calories in their meals. Could it just be that people were more hungry closer to lunch? Researchers tested that with 200 university students, who were also asked how hungry they were when ordering. Regardless of hunger, those who ordered before class rather than after averaged 100 fewer calories and were more likely to pick bottled water than soda.
"In the case of food, we care about what’s happening right now - like how tasty it is - but discount the long-term costs of a healthy meal," commented lead author Eric M. VanEpps. When ordering a meal in advance, however, "you're more evenly weighing the short-term and the long-term costs and benefits. You still care about the taste but you’re more able to exert self control."