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Healthy Menu Options May Lead to Overindulgence

The question "would you like fries or salad with that?" is one regularly asked by waitresses across the nation. While it's easy to think the answer is a personal decision that reflects one's eating habits, a soon-to-be-released study shows differently.

The New York Times reports that "the presence of healthy options on a menu can induce some diners to eat less healthily than they otherwise would." In the study, a group of college students were given two menus. One featured regular fast-food items (chicken nuggets, french fries, etc.) and the other was exactly the same with the addition of a salad. When choosing from the first menu, only 10 percent of the subjects ordered french fries. However, when given the menu with salad as an option, 33 percent of the same subjects asked for french fries.

This is an interesting concept and I'm curious to read the report, by the Journal of Consumer Research, when it comes out. Until then, I can only speak about my own experiences and the truth is I've looked at salad on a menu many times and thought, "I should have a salad. . .nah, I'll get the fries." What do you think of the news? Have you ever shunned a healthier dish for something more indulgent?


Join The Conversation
emalove emalove 8 years
I think it's fine to indulge sometimes.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I guess I'm the only one who doesn't order the fries, lol. I prefer a salad as a side when I'm eating something a little richer for an entree. I usually get my salad as plain as possible so that I can feel better about eating the fattier food with it. Plus, the fat in the entree helps you absorb the nutrients in the salad, so it's all good.
hope2be hope2be 8 years
When I do eat fast food, I will indulge LOL.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
Absolutely. First of all, the salads at McDonald's aren't that great and aren't that great for you. And I so rarely eat fast food that there's no way I'm passing up the fries!
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I'm with mamasitamali. It's rare I eat out so when I do I'll indulge a little but not every time.
deanna024 deanna024 8 years
They always, always charge extra for healthy options like a side. It's usually no extra charge to get fries with a meal, but it's a $1-3 up charge to even get a simple salad. So I think in some cases, restaurants make you eat unhealthy if you are watching your budget.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
of course! as long as you're not eating french fries with EVERY meal you eat, so what?
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