Stale Popcorn and The Power of Portion Control

The Power of Portion Control

Cornell University conducted a study in which unwitting participants were each given either a complementary medium sized bucket or a large bucket of popcorn. Both size buckets were more than most people could ever consume on their own. The buckets were weighed before and after the moviegoers ate their fill. In the first experiment, moviegoers were given fresh popcorn and in the second experiment they were given retched, three-day old popcorn. In both experiments the moviegoers who were given the larger tub ate more. In the first experiment, the moviegoers ate 45% more and in the second experiment, the moviegoers ate 34% more stale popcorn.


The take away from this study is clear, if you want to eat less, use smaller containers. Portion control containers are an easy way to tweak your environment. It is a painless way of modifying behavior by changing the situation.  Fixing what is perceived as a people problem with what is actually a situation problem. Purchase smaller plates, bowls, meal containers, and glasses. I recommend large glasses for consuming water since this will encourage greater consumption, but smaller glasses for high calorie beverages like juice, wine, and alcohol.

As you log your food, you’ll discover what portion sizes are appropriate for you. As a rule of thumb, a portion of protein is roughly the size of your palm, a portion of carbohydrates is what will fit in your cupped hand and a portion of fat is the size of your thumb. A portion of vegetables is the size of your clinched fist.

“We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture – imagine this – where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.”  Michelle Obama

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