snack, psychology, research, mind, eating, food, nutrition, health,

The Habit That Makes You Overeat

Bad news for snackers

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In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.


THE SCIENCE
In a new study from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, people were given a meal-size pasta dish and told that it was either a snack (which they consumed while standing with plastic utensils) or a meal (and ate it sitting down with real silverware). Those in the former category ate up to 50 percent more food later that day.
EXPERT INSIGHT
"The term changes the way in which the food is processed in the mind," says lead study author Jane Ogden, Ph.D., a health psychology professor at the University of Surrey. "When food is called a ‘snack,’ it is seen as less substantial and is more easy to forget later on. You're less likely to think, ‘I have just eaten and so I don’t want anything else.’” What's more, eating while standing or with disposable silverware (which is often associated with snacks) further contributes to the likelihood that you'll overeat. 

THE BOTTOM LINE
It's best to stick to three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and call them such, says Ogden. (Though other experts believe four meals is the sweet spot.) Treat them accordingly by taking the time to sit down, use proper tableware, and minimize distractions.