“Why Healthy Eaters Fall for Fries”

Unknown-2What do YOU choose to order when you have great, healthy choices on a menu along side not-so-healthy ones—or downright decadent options?

The New York Times reports, in an article called Why Healthy Eaters Fall for Fries,” that when faced with both “good” and “bad” choices, people are more likely to choose the unhealthy ones!  The article explains,

In studies, [Gavan J. Fitzsimons, a professor who studies consumer psychology at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business], has presented participants with a range of menu choices — sometimes just unhealthy items, sometimes neutral items (like a fish sandwich) and sometimes healthy choices like salad. It turned out that including a healthy option did change people’s behavior — by making them eat more unhealthily.

“When you put a healthy option up there on an otherwise unhealthy menu, not only do we not pick it, but its presence on the menu leads us to swing over and pick something that’s worse for us than we normally would,” Mr. Gavan J. Fitzsimons (professor who studies consumer psychology at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business) said.

Why? Mr. Fitzsimons called the phenomenon “vicarious goal fulfillment.” By seeing a healthy menu option at a restaurant, “it basically satisfies that goal to be healthy,” he said, and gives consumers leeway to order what they want.

And health-conscious eaters are the most susceptible to picking unhealthy items when the menu also has healthy ones. “It’s often the ones raising their hands, saying they would pick the salad, those are the ones that are the most at risk when they walk in,” he said.

As we know, eating  “vegan” is not necessarily eating “healthy” as there are infinite vegan ways to load up on all kinds of garbage food lacking nutrients, packed with empty fat and sugar calories. I know it’s almost impossibly difficult for me to ignore sweet potato fries on any menu! Am I the norm or do you have more self-discipline than that? Is this phenomenon different in different parts of the country?  The study was conducted in New York City, which has a plethora of every possible food choice imaginable.

Here at Vegan American Princess, we would love to tap into your inner guilty eating pleasures and know if you can control this “vicarious goal fulfillment” and still order vegan-healthy at restaurants when there are unhealthy choices presented to you! 

xox Ellen

VAP Photo of me retouchedDSCF0406-150x150


  1. When I am at an all-vegan restaurant, I will usually go with something decadent like vegan mac ‘n cheese. I cant control myself with vegan junk foods like the new “cronut” at Peacefoodcafe NYC! I guess there’s some truth to the “vicarious goal fulfillment.”

  2. Karen Katz says:

    Hello…… I just want to say that I have witnessed Ellen’s downfall for fries personally! This girl tells the truth! However, EVERYONE love fries!!!!! Interesting post!



Articles Archive