(NaturalNews) You might be eating nearly twice as much as you need to simply due to too large of a portion size, according to a study conducted by researchers from Cornell University and published in the journal Food, Quality and Preference.
"This research supports the notion that eating for pleasure - hedonic hunger - is driven more by the availability of foods instead of the food already eaten," co-author Brian Wansink said. "Just a bit satisfies, not magnifies, hunger and craving tendencies for snacks."
Study participants were given a plate full of snacks and allowed to eat as much as they wanted. One group was given just over one serving each of chocolate, apple pie and potato chips (100 grams, 200 grams and 80 grams, respectively). The amount of food on this plate totaled 1,370 calories. The second group, in contrast, was given only 10 grams of chocolate, 40 grams of apple pie and 10 grams of potato chips, amounting to just 195 calories.
No time limit was placed on the participants. The participants rated their hunger and craving for food both before and 15 minutes after eating. After eating, they also filled out a survey rating each food in terms of familiarity, liking and boredom.
The researchers found that the participants who were given the larger portions consumed 77 percent more than the participants given the smaller portions, or 103 extra calories. Notably; however, there was no difference in feelings of satiety (fullness) between the two groups.
That means that even though larger portions make you eat more, they don't make you feel any more satisfied.
"So, how much chocolate would you need to eat to be satisfied? Less than half as much as you think," Wansink said. "If you want to control your weight, here's the secret: Take a bite and wait. After 15 minutes all you'll remember - in your head and in your stomach - is that you had a tasty snack."
Eat half-sized snacks
According to lead author Ellen van Kleef, the study offers hope to those who are prone to think of certain foods, like chocolate, as "bad."
"If you are craving a food, it might be an option to eat the food, but in a smaller portion size," van Kleef said.
Dietitian Suzanne Farrell, who was not involved in the study, says the findings illuminate one of the problems that people have in regulating their food intake.
"We are not necessarily in tune to our own hunger level, satiety and fullness levels," she said.
Farrell suggests that people who are trying to regulate their food intake ask themselves, "How often do you eat when not even hungry? How often do you wait until you feel ravenous? How often do you get overly full? Do you know how it feels to be satisfied/comfortably full?"
"It's more than just the 'what' component of what you are eating- but also the how, why and when," she said. "Practice listening to your body more."