Another good book for learning about how easily our minds are tricked is 59 Seconds , in which the author describes a series of experiments that compared putting chocolates on office worker's desks to putting the chocolates six feet away. When the chocolates were placed on the desk instead of 6 feet away, each person ate on average 6 more chocolates per day. In another similar experiment, the chocolates were placed inside either transparent or opaque jars. The chocolates in the transparent jars were eaten 46% more quickly than the opaque jars!
Calorie Control Trick #3: Limit Your Options
In THIS recent British study, research revealed that when kids were presented with snacks that were familiar and not much different than the snacks they usually had, they ate fewer calories.
Not only does this mean that you might be able to get your kids to plow through slightly less Halloween candy this year by ensuring that they get many of the same types of candy, but you can also assume that we probably don't change much as we age.
So instead of heading to the supermarket and stocking up on three different types of cookies, several varieties of cereal, five different types of fruits, and several choice selections of deli meats and cheeses, you'd be better off simply choosing one option. In doing so, you'll reduce selection in your pantry and refrigerator, and leave yourself less likely to overeat simply because you want to try a variety of new flavors.
Interestingly, THIS study reminds me of Stephen Guyenet's Food Reward Hypothesis, in which he suggest that by eating simple foods and reducing our reward response to food, we can probably do a better job controlling overeating and obesity.
Eating more slowly can help you to eat less. When you take your time with each bite, and fully chew and swallow (in many cases this means chewing a bite 20-25 times) you allow the fullness signal from gastric hormones to reach your brain and shut down your appetite before you eat too much.
But there may be more to eating less than simply slowing down.
At Pennington BioMedical Research Centre, 48 participants were studied in a lab as they ate three meals at lunchtime on different days.
Each participant was asked to avoid eating or exercise for 12 hours before lunch, and ate a meal of fried chicken, cut up into bite sizes at their own rate, at half their normal rate (paced by a beeping noise), or at a mix of their own rate and then the slower rate.
The finding was that the combination of beginning the meal eating at one's own eating rate, and then dropping to a slower eating rate, had the biggest reduction on appetite for both men and women more than eating slowly all the way through.
So to reduce the appetite, it may make sense to eat at whatever pace seems natural at first, but about halfway through your meal, to consciously slow down and begin to savor every bite.
Of course, I always look at studies like this with a wary eye, because how often do you eat lunch after a 12 hour fast with no exercise?
Multiple studies have found that you eat more when you are distracted by TV, movies, phones or games. In that same book 59 Seconds , people who were paying close attention to a movie ate significantly larger amounts of popcorn compared to those that were paying less attention to the movie.
In another experiment in that book, people who actively listened to an engaging detective story being told to them during lunch ate 15% more than those who had no story to listen to.
In another interesting study, researchers at University of Southern California gave moviegoers either fresh popped or stale popcorn and monitored how much they ate. They found that taste of the popcorn was not the primary motivator for how much people ate. People ate the same amount of popcorn whether it was stale or fresh. But when people watched the movie in a meeting room instead of a theater, they ate ate more of the fresh popcorn than stale.
This study suggests that when you are engaged in an environment that is primarily geared toward entertainment, or absorbed in a movie on your iPad, you¹re likely to eat more food, whether or not you even like the food! It seems that distractions not only make you eat more, but can even make you eat more food you wouldn¹t normally eat anyways.
Click HERE to read part 1
Ben Greenfield has been coaching athletes for over a decade from the website http://www.pacificfit.net, and is author of the modern triathlon coaching manual, "How To Be A Triathlon Coach," at http://www.triathloncoachguide.com.