Blowing your diet often comes in small packages

choosing your chocolate treatYou’re in the sweet aisle of the grocery store – an aisle you should probably avoid, but the layout of the supermarket ensures that the opposite aisle is stocked with more-or-less essential items, like coffee (okay, maybe caffeine is not essential, but it is necessary) and eggs etc.

So you’re in the aisle of temptation.

Being mature ……

The mature part of you says, pass through the valley of the shadow of obesity and keep going. But we’re not always as mature as we would like to be.

So we stop to make a purchase.

What will it be, a 500 g bar of double thick mint chocolate or a bag of mini bite size chocolates ?

The mature part often steps in and helps out. The mini chocolates, of course – there is much less chocolate under the wrapper, so you won’t eat as much.

Bite size deception

Believe it or not – the giant bar of chocolate would have been a better choice.

According to research conducted by a team of European researchers – big packages put the brake on the munchies, small packages invite overindulgence.

On paper, the bite size delights contain less calories, but the trouble is, they’re far easier to tuck into.

The small versus large test

The researchers gathered a bunch of weight conscious people together, they wound them up a bit, to make sure they were feeling VERY FAT and then sent them in to a room to evaluate TV ads.

The researchers were not particularly interested in what they thought of the ads, they wanted to know what they did with the packets of chips in the room. Participants had a choice – big packets or small ones.

Big packets were avoided like the plague. Small packets were invariably tucked into. In fact, when small packets were offered, the calorie count of the participants sky rocketed.

The brain is afraid of big packages

Coming face to face with a big package makes the brain very nervous. It does the maths, a big package has lots of calories. Lots of calories have nowhere to go, so they must inevitably be stored. Stored calories equal fat, wobbly, unsightly bits.

Big packages are too be handled with care !

Small packages are safe

A small package, on the other hand, is pretty safe. Opening up and swallowing it, will bring a few calories, but not enough to tip the energy equation to an energy overload.

The brain believes the single serve package is just an innocent pleasure, to be savoured when the stresses and strains of the day, overwhelm.

Sneaky small sins turn BIG

The trouble with the innocent pleasure, is that once we’ve entered the Nuclear Accumbens Fun Park, we don’t want to leave.

The morsel causes a dopamine spike and lots of very pleasurable feelings. We want more, and one more tiny bite is not going to make a huge difference – right ?

Mmmmmmm – we’ll just have one more bite.

And another.

Oops the packet is empty.

Think for yourself

Don’t rely on the size of the package to do your thinking. Eating “forbidden” pleasures is a risky business and requires your full attention. Always count the calories, don’t rely on the package.

NOTE : You might want to exploit the brain’s fear a little to avoid wearing edible gifts on your hips

Flying under the Radar: Perverse Package Size Effects on Consumption Self-Regulation. Journal of Consumer Research (2008) Coelho do Vale et al.
 

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Further reading

taste buds in your ears  bite counter  the popcorn experiment 
Did you know that you have taste buds in your ears ? Stop counting steps and start counting bites  Autopilot eating turns movie viewing into monster jamboree 

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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