We stop eating when our stomach is full, right?
Oddly enough, this is wrong. We don’t stop eating because our stomach is full except, in very extreme cases such as Christmas dinner. In reality, scientists don’t know exactly what makes us feel full.
It seems to be a combination, among other things, of how much we chew, how much we taste, how much we swallow, how much we think about the food, and how long we have been eating.
What does seem to be the case is that the faster we wolf down our food, the more we eat, because this combination of cues doesn’t get a chance to tell us we are no longer hungry. Many research studies show that it takes up to 20 minutes for our body and brain to signal satiation, so that we realize we are full.
20 minutes is enough time to inhale two or three more pieces of pizza and drink a large refill of Coke.
Here’s the problem. We start finish and clear the table for many of our meals in less than 20 minutes. Our meals are remarkably short.
A study done by Drs Rick Bell and Patti Pliner found that If we are eating lunch alone, we spent only 11 minutes eating, 30 minutes at a workplace cafeteria, and 28 minutes at a moderately priced restaurant. If we are eating with three other people, we tend to take about twice as long, but that’s still a speedy lunch.
Most of us actually decide how much to eat before we put any food into our mouths. We eyeball how much we think we want, dish it out, and then eat until it’s gone.
Think of a person going for a jog, if the person decides to jump on the treadmill until she’s tired, she constantly has to ask herself, “am I tired, am I tired yet, am I tired?” But if she says, “I’m going to jog down to the school and back,” she doesn’t have to constantly monitor how tired she is. she set the target, and jogs until she’s done.
This is one reason why the “clean your plate” notion is so powerful. The clean plate gives us a set target to aim for so we don’t have to constantly ask ourselves, “am I full yet, I’m a full yet, I’m a full yet?” We can dish it out, space out, and eat until it’s gone.
This is why I believe if we are counting calories and serve our food in smaller plates using smaller cutlery our results will be much improved in the long run.
From the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink