Small pieces secret to diet success

By Mina Radman • Published: October 5th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Are you ready to hear the simplest diet secret in the world? It doesn’t require starving yourself, forgoing your favorite dessert forever or any sort of sweat-inducing exercise that leaves you gasping for breath. All you need is a knife. A study from Arizona State University found that simply cutting up food into smaller bites makes you eat less and feel fuller faster.

Scientists first tested the theory on rats. The rodents worked harder to make their way through a maze if their reward was 30 small pieces of food rather than a chunk of food weighing the same amount.

College students also ate less of a bagel with cream cheese when it was quartered into chunks rather than whole. What’s more, when offered a full meal 20 minutes later, the chunk-chewing group ate less — which says a lot considering college students seldom turn away free food.

The science behind this situation says seeing more food in front of us tricks our mind and stomach into thinking we’re eating more than we actually are, triggering satisfaction. Dieters can apply this strategy to everyday eating by choosing volume over calorie-dense foods. That is, a plateful of veggies looks like more food than a caloric cookie, but actually has far fewer calories and will fill you up faster thanks to fiber and water content. One hundred calories of grapes looks like a lot more than one hundred calories of raisins, but helps you reach satiety better. So look to pile your plate with high water content fruits and veggies like peppers, asparagus, watermelon and citrus fruits.

Need some more portion-control pointers? Eat from smaller plates and make sure at least half of it is devoted to veggies. When dining out, ask the waiter to box half the gargantuan-sized dish before he or she even brings it out. And be sure to cut it up into bite-sized pieces for a meal that’s better for your body.