Adhering to a diet while eating out can be problematic, as most restaurants tend to serve more food than any one person should eat in a single sitting. However, the amount that person eats is entirely up to them. A recent study conducted at the Cornell Food & Brand Lab has revealed that the average adult eats around 92 percent of the food that is served to them on a plate meaning most people are members of the Clean Plate Club.
"If you put it on your plate, it's going into your stomach," Dr. Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab said in a statement. "This might be because kids are less certain about whether they will like a particular food. Regardless, this is good news for parents who are frustrated that their kids don't clean their plate. It appears few of them do. Just knowing that you're likely to consume almost all of what you serve yourself can help you be more mindful of appropriate portion size."
Wansink and his colleagues collected their data from 1,179 diners from the United States, Canada, France, Taiwan, Korea, Finland, and the Netherlands. Findings revealed that the average adult finished 92 percent of the food that was put on his or her plate. Although the results were similar among both gender and nationality, younger people tend to finish less of the food they are served compared to adults. A separate analysis of 326 people under the age of 18 showed that the average child only finished 59 percent of the food they are served.
"Part of why we finish most of what we serve is because we are aware enough to know how much we'll want in the first place," exaplined co-author of the study Katherine Abowd Johnson.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating out at restaurants does not have to turn into an all-you-can-eat affair. Restaurant patrons can control the portion of their meal by splitting their entrée with a friend. They can also ask their waiter or waitress for a doggy bag as soon as their food is served and wrap up half of the meal to avoid overeating. While your parents may have told you to avoid snacking so you don’t spoil your dinner as a child, having a light snack like an apple or salad before dinner can help curb binge eating tendencies.
Source: Johnson K, Wansink B, et al. The clean plate club: about 92% of self-served food is eaten. International Journal of Obesity. 2014.