Posted on | October 4, 2010 | No Comments
A recent study has shown that if you feel like you’re on a diet, you may actually eat more – referred to as the “What the hell affect”
The study took 106 females who were invited for lunch and told to fast for 3 hours prior so they all arrived with the same hunger levels. They were told they were going to rate a new brand of cookie (biscuit) and were going to be given a ‘light lunch’ before. They were told that everyone would receive the exact same portion of lunch being served.
The first fact to keep in mind is that every woman in the experiment was actually given the exact same weight and slice of pizza for lunch. However, some participants were lead to believe they either received a smaller or larger piece of pizza.
The experiment was conducted by splitting the women into rooms – and some of the volunteers got to see the other person’s slice as it was carried into the room. However, they were fooled with that slice as it was either 1/3 larger or 1/3 smaller than the lunch portion they were served. So that means that some volunteers thought their portion of lunch was either larger or smaller than their counterparts.
After lunch they were then given a platter of oatmeal-raisin, chocolate chip and double chocolate chip cookies and asked to rate them. They were told to eat as many as they wanted or needed to, to reach a conclusion about the taste of the cookies. What the volunteers weren’t told – is that the researchers knew the total weight of the cookies on the plate which they could later weigh to asses how much each had consumed.
Throughout the research, the volunteers were asked for feedback on their mood, feelings such as anxiety, sadness, depression, anger, their eating habits, how often they dieted, if they thought about food alone and whether they ate sensibly in front of others or splurged when alone.
Interestingly, the researchers found that people who did not see anyone else’s pizza portions and those who considered they have been served up a small slice of pizza ended up eating the same amount of cookies.
The biggest research finding was to track the behaviour of the volunteers who believed they had eaten a larger slice of pizza. From the questionnaire, those that considered themselves to be non-dieters ate fewer cookies than those that were conscious dieters and ended up eating more. The researchers hypothesizesed that non-dieters feel they have overeaten and should take smaller portions of dessert while dieters might think “What the hell” I’ve blown my diet anyway and eat more.
This is further proof that dieting doesn’t work. And people find it hard to listen to their body telling them it’s hungry or full regardless of the portion of food they have (i.e. over eating)
When empty, your stomach is the size of a clenched fist and can expand to hold up to 1 litre of food/drink. Start to listen to your stomach regarding hunger – not your eyes. (Don’t let your eyes be too big for your belly as my mum says) You only need 350g of food before you feel full. So if you eat slowly you’re likely not to overeat . Also, the message to your brain that you’re full (satiety) can be delayed by 20 minutes or more. Start to listen to your stomach to tell you you’re full. Don’t keep eating because you think you can or you want to. You don’t need to finish everything on your plate if you feel 80% full, you can always come back for more later if you really are still hungry. Overtime if you’re not responding to the normal hunger and satiety response it can be switched off.
Which is why the Health Guru advice always is: Chew slowly, put your utensils down between bites and always stop eating when you feel 80% full because it’s better to waste it than to ‘waist’ it.