Much is written about “mindless eating,” the habit of eating just because the food is there without considerable attention paid to what and how much is being eaten. This can lead to many calories being consumed spontaneously! A recent report out of the University of Minnesota showed how satiation, defined as the drop in liking during repeated consumption, can be a positive mechanism when it lowers the desire for unhealthy foods.
Joseph Redden at the Carlson School of Management at the University asked participants to monitor themselves as they ate by counting how many times they swallowed. With this subtle clue to the amount eaten, those with low self-control became satisfied at a faster rate. His conclusion was that “People can essentially use attention for how much they are consuming instead of relying on self-control. Really paying a lot more attention to the quantity will lead people to feel satiated faster and eat less,” Redden added.
Other ways of paying attention to the food quantity is having food served in individual containers vs. eating out of a large container. Oftentimes, people eat until the food is gone. Putting utensils down between bites is also a way to slow down eating and pay more attention to how much is eaten. Keeping a food journal or recording food intake on a smartphone or computer is also an excellent way of keeping track of intake.
The important point is that paying attention to how much you eat may make you feel satisfied sooner. Whichever method you use will be helpful in controlling your food intake. The report from the University of Minnesota shows that people can use attention instead of self-control to decrease their food intake!