Mind Tricks for Eating Fewer Sweets

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

A sweet tooth is the ruiner of diets. The enemy of weight loss. A very interesting study happened a few years back that shed light on how to help you cut down on candy and deal with that sweet tooth. Eating less is the clear answer. But how? They found that, by changing your candy dish (or whatever dish) so that it has a lid, is not see-through, and is out of easy reach, you will eat less of what is in the bowl.

Mental tricks!

Humans are inherently a bit lazy, which explains the lid. If the candy is out of reach, if it’s more effort to get it, then we are less likely to try. And if we can’t actually see the candy — a non-clear dish — we are less likely to want some. The study wasn’t simply for fun; it was to help people trying to lose weight attempt to fight off the sweet tooth. The researchers are those who previously investigated portion size and other diet-related issues.

In the study, 40 women who worked at a university volunteered and, every day for one month, received bowls of chocolate “kisses” in their office. Researchers said they would refill the bowls each night, using different bowls, and switching the bowl’s location. Some bowls had covers; some were clear, and some opaque. Sometimes they were placed right on the women’s desks, and sometimes seven feet away — just far enough that they’d have to get up.

At the end of each week, they asked each person to guess how many chocolates she’d eaten. Everyone underestimated the amount. They ate the most when the bowls were see-through and placed on their desks. The numbers broke down as such:

— Clear bowl on desk: eight pieces a day
— Opaque bowl on desk: six a day
— Clear bowl farther away: five pieces a day
— Opaque bowl farther away: three pieces a day

More than just a study about snacking on the job, this is important for people to be accurate in monitoring and controlling the amount of food they eat. The women underestimated, for example, the amount of kisses they took from the bowl seven feet away. That’s because they tended to take several pieces, in order to make the trip worthwhile. Then they forgot about these extra guys.

An interesting idea is that if proximity and visibility make people eat more chocolate, it could work for fruits and vegetables, too. A clear fruit bowl, anyone?

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