Most of us know that if you fill a smaller plate with food you are likely to feel fuller than if you put the same amount of food on a bigger plate. This shows that we are aware there is an element of psychology in our eating habits, and that sometimes it is not our body, but our mind that tells us we are hungry or full.
Eating is, of course, essential to living. We need energy in order to carry out daily activities and maintain healthy strong bodies. But it is also so much more than that. Anyone who has ever tried to diet knows that a person’s relationship with food goes far beyond the physical, primal need for sustenance to something much harder to understand and control.
A new study which was presented at the Obesity Society Annual Scientific Meeting in Texas showed that not only how much we eat affected by desire to confirm, social norms, previous experience and our own habits, but how full we feel later is affected too.
Snack or meal?
Going well beyond the plate-size study, this study shows that how full we feel depends on how much and what we THINK we’ve eaten, as well as what we have actually eaten. This is demonstrated in a study where subjects are given the same smoothie to drink. Although the drinks were identical, one group was told that there was more fruit than there really was in their smoothie, whilst others were told that their drink contained less fruit than there actually was. A few hours, yes hours, later, those who thought their smoothie contained more fruit reported that they still felt full.
You see this with the naming of foods too, if you refer to a plate of food as a ‘meal’, participants tend to feel more full and for longer than if you gave them the same plate of food but called it a ‘snack’. This works too with the labels ‘high calorie’ and ‘low calorie’; if someone believes they have consumed more calories they feel fuller.
According to the study, how full we feel after a meal is down to something called ‘expected satiety’ (how full we think we will feel) as well as actual satiety (how full we will actually feel). This means that we choose food and portion size according to how much we think it will fill us up.
According to the researchers, our memories are highly influential in our portion size; part of the reasons we choose a certain amount of food is because we remember how much we need to become full. This could also explain why some people suddenly feel more full when they are aware that the slice of pizza they ate as a ‘snack’ actually contained 400 calories, or why people don’t feel at all hungry until they look at the clock and see that it is lunchtime.
Both before and after weight loss surgery it is important to be aware of how much you are eating and also that feelings of hunger may not actually be hunger; they could be triggered by memory, boredom, sadness and many other things. If you are a constant grazer try keeping a food journal to help you to keep track of how much you eat.
If you are struggling with weight loss then why not get in touch today using the form to the right of this screen and arrange to speak to one of our world class bariatric surgeons about whether or not we can help you to get on the right track for weight loss and a healthier you.