This short post covers 6 relatively unknown — and odd — tips that can help us control how much we eat.
Odd Tip #1: Hide Your Breakfast Cereal
This first tip comes from Brian Wansink, PhD, who is well known for his work on food psychology and eating behaviors. His research has revealed that simply keeping breakfast cereal in full view throughout the day — say, on the kitchen counter — has an impact on weight.
Two facts came forward with this.
It didn”™t make a difference if the cereal was junky (Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs) or more healthful (oatmeal). Just keeping it visible was the salient factor.
Also, the difference in weight between revealers and concealers averaged 21 pounds.
Since it doesn”™t affect meals directly, keeping cereal in the kitchen cabinet seems like an easy way to help control food intake.
Odd Tip #2: Change Your Plate Color
I”™ve come across this tip in two ways.
1) Using a plate that”™s the same color as the food you”™re eating encourages eating more food.
Of course, meals typically include several foods of different colors. A practical way to use this might be to think in terms of side dishes you”™d like to limit. For example, if the side dish is white — potatoes, pasta, white rice — it might be a good idea to avoid using a white plate.
2) Then there”™s the color blue. Eating from a blue plate seems to make people eat less. One theory is that the color blue is “off-putting.”
I wonder this matches up with the first part because there”™s no blue food. (Yes, blueberries are purple.)
So if we want to keep eating lots of vegetables, maybe we should avoid green plates(!).
Odd Tip #3: Limit Your Food Variety
Variety seems to make us eat more. That could be one reason that a buffet-style meal encourages overeating.
But I”™ve also heard that keeping too many different types of food in the kitchen could have a similar effect, prompting us to want to sample the different foods.
Maybe the best way to enjoy variety would be to change shopping lists from week to week, rather than buying lots of different foods at one time.
Odd Tip #4: Use Smaller Serving Spoons
The test study I read about used M&Ms to investigate how people ate from a big, full bowl of the candies in an office setting. Apparently, a large scoop invited greater M&M consumption than a teaspoon.
I wonder if there”™s an unconscious link between the number of “spooning” actions and how much food we”™re willing to take. One scooping action may seem less greedy than 5 teaspoons, even if the quantity is the same.
A practical way to make use of this at home might be to use a smaller serving spoon for the foods you”™d like to limit (for example, mac & cheese) and a larger one for vegetables and other healthful fare.
Odd Tip #5: Change Your Eating Rate
Slowing down is a meal tip that”™s been around for a long time, and it seems intuitive that eating slowly would decrease food volume. But that didn”™t seem to work for women, although it did for men.
What worked for both men and women was to begin the meal at a normal rate of eating, then slow down to about half speed for the rest of the meal.
The article I read didn”™t specify exactly when to slow down, so I”™d suggest just after the initial hunger has passed.
Odd Tip #6: Eat Smaller Food.
Cutting food into very small pieces seems to limit the amount we”™ll eat.
Again, I wonder if it relates to arm action, the plate-to-mouth action. If it takes more of those actions to eat the food, maybe we unconsciously limit the number of times, rather than the amount of food per se.
Whatever the reasons behind these odd tips, they don”™t involve eating different foods or counting calories, just a simple shift in behaviors.
I”™m for whatever works, so why not give them a try? And if they help with holidays meals, so much the better. Please let me know which, if any, work for you.
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