THE CHICKEN QUESADILLA GRANDE is calling to me. I am jet-lagged, starving, and fairly certain that a giant pile of melted cheese will dramatically improve my outlook on life. But right now, in front of a renowned authority on healthy eating? That doesn’t seem like such a great idea.
I’m here at an Applebee’s in Ithaca, New York, where Brian Wansink, a Cornell food psychologist, is evaluating my dining habits. So far, he says, I’ve got a few things going for me: We are seated by the window, which his research has shown makes us 80 percent more likely to order salad. And had we chosen a booth near the bar, our risk of ordering dessert would have been 73 percent greater. I should be glad, he says, that the ceiling lamps are casting a cheery glow and that Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” is playing softly; dim lighting and loud music are associated with consuming a lot of calories, not to mention lower satisfaction with the meal.
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