Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Edible stop signs

While to some of you, yellow may be a signal to increase the pressure on the gas peddle -- red is a whole other idea.  Red means stop.  Period.

I bet, if you were eatin' along and someone with a big red stop sign jumped out at you when you reached a level 8 on the hunger/fullness scale, you would stop eating.

But what happens when there's a stop sign embedded in your snack?  Well, **several researchers have tested this very idea out.

If you take a tube of chips (think Pringle's) and dye every X number of chips red, people munching on those chips will eat fewer chips than those who have the normal container of undyed chips.  And those who have every 5th chip dye will eat fewer total chips than those who have a tube with every 10th chip dyed.

We notice red chips because they aren't normal.  They call attention to what we're munching on -- or...in other words, they make us more mindful that we're eating in the first place.

And that's great -- but what if you can't get your hands on red dyed Pringle's???

Well...you could leave the bag of chips on the counter in the kitchen and only take one at a time while you are watching TV -- that would cut down your consumption by making it too inconventient to eat more than one or two chips!

And that is the exact reason I am a huge advocate of plating your dinner in the kitchen and then carrying your plate to the table to eat.  This cuts down on the one-bite-here-one-bite-there munching and second helpings you don't really need (or want) but just eat because they are there. 

The walk to the kitchen to get more food serves as a stop sign that allows you to recall your efforts to be more mindful of whether or not you really want that next scoop of dinner.

Give it some thought -- what other stop signs can you set up in your environment?  An inconvenient snack cupboard in the basement?  Often, walking down the stairs just isn't worth whatever mindless, munching snack awaits you down there.  What about making it a habit to always eat off a plate, sitting down at the kitchen table.  How many bites would you be unable to eat in the course of your day if you opted not to eat in your car, at your desk, or in front of the TV? 

What stop signs can you envision impacting your eating behaviors?  Click the comment button and share your ideas!

**interested in other research along these same lines?  Check out the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

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