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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 03-Aug-12


Friday 03-July-12

How to reduce eating

If you have ever been on a cruise ship, you'll probably know that it?s usually an all-inclusive affair with food available most of the day. Bingeing is easy and some certainly do tuck in. Even modest eaters can be tempted by the delicious food on display. While the attraction of this may help sell cruises, it doesn?t help cruise operators who want to keep their costs down.

I went on a cruise recently where the operator (Costa) had this down to a fine art. While not appearing stingy, they still managed to reduce what people ate in the self-service restaurants through a series of subtle methods.

  • Plate size: Use smaller plates and people will eat less. The plates weren?t obviously tiny, but they were smaller than the ones at home.
  • No trays: So you can carry only two things at a time (most only carry one, which is wise on a moving ship).
  • Narrow aisles: So moving about is a hassle, so you are less inclined to go back for more.
  • Narrow food service area: Creating queues and jams, which further inhibits getting more food.
  • Limited table size: again not tiny, but quickly runs out of plate space.
  • Limited food on show: Only limited quantities of each food on display at one time.

My favourite was the last point. Most self-service places pile it high and leave you to it. But the quantity people take will be related to what?s on show. If there?s a big pile, then people will assume there's plenty for everyone and so take more. But when there is enough only for a few people, we feel obliged to leave more for others. There is a cost in keeping staff busy topping up the service trays, but this did not seem to be an issue. There is also the added customer-satisfaction benefit that when they see less on offer, they assume it is fresher and made just for them, so their assessment of food quality goes up!

Don?t get me wrong. I wasn?t upset. In fact I was both impressed by their subtlety (I heard no complaints) and was pleased by the assistance in preventing me from over-eating. I was brought up by wartime parents who experienced thin rationing and who taught me that if it was available I should eat while I could. So help in not over-eating is just fine for me.

Your comments

Enjoyed your post Dave. It?s truly amazing how quite an ordinary situation, a simple moment in our lives, becomes so exciting the minute we stop blindly absorbing the input and start questioning it.

-- Ivan M

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