Let’s say your plate is filled with three different foods: a turkey sandwich, some spears of broccoli and a chocolate chip cookie. Which food do you eat first?
According to Brian Wansick’s new book, Mindless Eating, your birth order helps to shape your eating habits:
When we looked at the food questionnaires, we discovered that people who at the best food first [as opposed to saving the best food for last] shared one of two characteristics: they either grew up as a youngest child or came from large families.
The people most likely to save the best for last, on the other hand, had grown up as an only child or as the oldest. They could afford to save their favorite foods as a reward, knowing it would still be waiting for them at the end of the meal. It’s different for children in big families, particularly if they’re not the oldest. There is competition for food, even when there’s plenty to eat. If you don’t eat your favorite food first, you might lose out altogether. Get it while you can.
Wansick points out that this simple preference for eating favorite foods first can have serious health implications.
If a child becomes conditioned to eat their favorite foods first, they might develop the long-term eating habit of filling up on the high-calorie goodies at the expense of the healthier salads, fruits, and vegetables. That is a recipe for obesity.
While this research makes intuitive sense, it doesn’t actually fit my eating habits. Although I come from a large family, I’m definitely a salad-first kind of guy. This might be explained by the fact that scarcity of sweets was never an issue during my childhood. My father made frequent Costco runs, which ensured we had a steady supply of candy bars and sour licorice in the cupboards. I could always eat my salad content in the knowledge that something better was waiting for me.
Do you eat your favorite foods first?