Everyone knows eating until you're full is a surefire way to overeat. Researchers studying eating habits found that participants were unable to gauge portions based on feelings of fullness; instead, seeing a portion size is critical to dietary moderation.
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Psychology-focused blog MindHacks highlights some interesting research on eating and how people gauge portion sizes. Researchers in Berlin set up a study where participants would eat in the dark, allowing the researchers to alter portion sizes without the participants knowing. In darkness, the participants — visually unaware of whether they had been given the regular or super-size portions — ate all of the food with little change in feelings of fullness between those with the large or small portions. In contrast, those who were fed the same portions in a lit area reported feeling fuller sooner and ate less. They were able to gauge how full they should feel based on the size of the portion in front of them.
Another experiment, conducted by Chinese researchers, showed participants who ate from a self-refilling bowl of soup were unable to effectively gauge their fullness based on the volume of soup eaten. Those with the refilling-bowl ate based on how full or empty the bowl looked and ended up eating 75 per cent more soup before reporting they felt full.
While you may not ever find yourself eating a seven-course meal in the dark, the findings of both studies are useful outside of the laboratory in two ways. First they emphasise the importance of mindful eating. Eating while doing work at your desk or watching television takes your eyes and mind off the food and can lead to overeating. Second they emphasise how poorly our stomachs perform at telling us when they are full. Measuring out a portion of food before you begin eating is the best way to ensure you only eat as much as you intended to eat.
Check out the article at the link below or, if you want to brush up on your portion-estimating skills, check out this handy, visual portion-size chart from the Iowa State University Extension office. Have a healthy eating tip of your own to share? Let's hear about it in the comments.
Dark Restaurant Alters Appetite and Eating [Mind Hacks]