We all know about the secret “dessert compartment,” right? The part of you that stays empty and has room for dessert even when you’re full from dinner? Well, okay, no scientist has proven that this body part exists. But sometimes even when we feel full, another food appears and suddenly we’re hungry again. Why? New food excites our taste buds more than food we’ve already tasted. In fact, when people eat at a buffet — a long table with lots of foods — they eat more food if they keep walking up to try more foods than if they fill their plate once with a bunch of choices. And in one famous study, people whose soup bowls were secretly refilling with more soup from the bottom ate 73% more soup (almost double) than people who ate from one steady serving! The lesson: stop eating when you feel full, or they’ll have to roll you out of there.
Wee ones: If at a buffet you eat chicken, potatoes, corn, string beans, and chocolate cake, how many foods do you eat?
Little kids: If you’ve tried 5 types of pasta from the buffet and then the kitchen brings out 2 kinds of cupcakes, how many types of food can you try in total? Bonus: If you try 9 foods and eat 10 bites of each, how would you count up the bites by 10s?
Big kids: If 7 soup eaters each eat 7 bowls of soup, how many bowls do they eat together? Bonus: The always-full bowls ate about 3/4 more soup than people eating from just one big bowl to start. So if you ate 20 spoons of soup, about how many did the endless-soup eaters eat?
Wee ones: 5 foods.
Little kids: 7 types of food. Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90.
Big kids: 49 bowls. Bonus: 35 spoons…a quarter of 20 is 5 spoons, so adding 3 of those chunks means adding on 15.
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.