Eating Habits

Alex Tabarrok looks at a popular new diet book and asks an interesting question:

Do you eat the best thing first or save the best for last? Most people fall into one of these two categories and according to Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating there is a simple economic explanation. The people who eat the best thing first tend to have grown up as younger children from large families. The people who save the best for last are more often first borns. Need I say more?

My wife (middle child of three) and I (only child) are apparently outliers, in that we both eat a little of this and a little of that until we’re done. Indeed, I don’t think anyone in my family or any of my friends eat their entrees and side dishes one-by-one.

Either I’m not very observant, have chosen a very anomalous group with which to share meals, or Wansink (or Tabarrok’s summary) is wrong.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. When we first started dating, Morgon would razz me because I eat my meals one food item at a time. She falls into the same category as you, eating a little here and a little there.

    Don’t know what that says about us. She’s a firstborn, I’m second out of four.

  2. pudge says:

    JJ baby,

    You’re missing the thrills of life. Using the concept of contrast, one can be enthralled by otherwise mundane tasks and activities.

    Ex: First, you eat all of your beets,then, at the absolute peakage of your gag reflex, you start in on that (as if whipped by angels themselves)delectable intermixture of potatoe,milk and butter, and “seasoned to taste” (known to the gauche among us as “mashed potatoes”), and experience the full bloom of mortal rapture.

    The former is something you might try,for myself however,it’s stirring everything into an engourged goulash and chasing it down with a 24oz tumbler of gin that brings on nirvana. Ah life,it is but a quiltwork of wonder and diversity,ey old chap ?

  3. Bandit says:

    I mix everything together