Tricks to feel fuller

The latest weapon in your war against over-eating: A wad of bubble gum. Turns out the simple act of chewing may dramatically reduce the amount of food you have to eat in order to feel full, finds new research from the Netherlands.

A team from Wageningen University and Switzerland’s Nestlé Research Center subjected 26 people to one of the strangest experiments: Study participants were asked to chew—but not swallow—a piece of food for either one minute or eight minutes. While all this chewing was going on, the researchers were pumping different amounts of food directly into the participants’ stomachs via a tube snaked down the nose and throat.

Thirty minutes later, each person received a meal, and the researchers recorded how much food was consumed. (And yes, remarkably, people were actually able to eat after this experience.)

The results: Those who chewed for eight minutes ate 19 percent less food than those who chewed for only one minute, regardless of how much food the person had received via nose-tube.

Here’s why: Giving your food more mouth time—or what the study authors call “oral-sensory stimulation”—tricks your brain into thinking you’re eating, and so helps quell hunger. “Before your body has absorbed even one macronutrient, chewing triggers physiological responses that tell it to feel full,” explains study co-author Alfrun Erkner, PhD.

Don’t feel like chewing your first bit of chicken cacciatore for eight minutes? Chomping on a piece of gum half-an-hour before dinner should offer the same hunger-quelling benefits, the study suggests.

Here are a few more science-backed ways to feel fuller without eating more:

* Heavier is better when it comes to dishes. Researchers from Spain and the UK served people yogurt in one of three different bowls, ranging from light to heavy. Although the yogurt and portions were the same, the study participants rated the heavy bowl’s contents as more flavorful, delicious, and dense. They also felt more satisfied eating less of the yogurt, according to the study, which was published in Food Quality and Preference.

* Choose the right fork. People who ate with a small fork consumed 21 percent less food than those who ate with a large fork when dining at home, found a University of Utah study. According to the study’s authors, the more bites you have to take, the more slowly you consume your food. Plus, other studies have shown that eating slowly increases feelings of fullness.

* Eat with your opposite hand. It’s all too easy to overeat when you’re busy chatting or watching TV. But using your opposite hand is awkward and cumbersome, and so keeps your mind on your plate, finds a study from the University of Southern California. People who ate with their opposite hand consumed less than those who ate with their dominant hand.

* Stick to small plates. A Cornell University team found that people ate 31 percent more ice cream when serving themselves in a large bowl versus a small bowl. Why? People tend to finish what’s before them whether they feel full or not. If you start out with a small plate and smaller portions, you’re unlikely to go back for more, even if you would have finished off a larger plate of food, says the study. (


TAGS: diet, health
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