In a recent study, British researchers told participants they were eating a two-egg omelette on one visit, and a four-egg omelette on another. The trick: They were actually eating three eggs both times. However, after eating the perceived light breakfast, folks ate roughly 150 more calories at lunch compared to the days when they thought they'd had a larger meal.
While 150 extra calories may not seem like all that much, multiply that by seven and the total of 1050 per week can throw a serious wrench in weight maintenance, points out lead study author, Steve Brown, Ph.D., senior lecturer in psychology at Sheffield Hallam University in England. It could be that when we anticipate a large meal, our bodies react to the expectation differently than when we envision a smaller meal, says Brown. The problem with this theory is that his team found no difference in study participants' levels of ghrelin, the hormone associated with hunger. This suggests it's our memory playing tricks on us when we’re in that in-between stage and don't feel starved or stuffed. “When asked, ‘how full are you?’ we may think back to our earlier meal and how small or large it was in order to guide our response, using memory as a point of reference,” he explains.
Instead of thinking about the size of your previous meal, take the time to eat slowly and check in with how full you really are. Read more about mindful eating here.