You may be fat because you simply cannot taste it. At least that’s what researchers at Deakin University believe. Their new study in the journal Appetite suggests people with a low “taste-threshold for fat” are more likely to overeat due to impaired satiety signals that normally come with a rich meal. But overindulging isn’t just about food choices. There’s ample research to suggest healthy eating is a 5-sense experience, and everything from the color of our plates to the sounds in the room can trigger a mindless binge. Here are 5 tricks to avoid overeating at every meal:
1. Dine by candlelight.
Taking time to set the mood may increase your meal satisfaction, making you less likely to overeat. A study of fast food restaurants published in the journal Psychological Reports found that customers who dined in a relaxed environment with dimmed lights and mellow music ate 175 fewer calories per meal than if they were in a more typical restaurant environment.
2. Use contrasting plates.
Turns out the color of the plates we’re using may be as beneficial to healthy living as a colorful diet. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that participants who had low contrast between their food and plates–for example fettuccine Alfredo on a white plate–served themselves 22 percent more pasta than participants with high contrast plate (think blue or red).
3. Add some aromatics.
The smell of a rich plate of food can make your mouth water, and it may cause you eat less too. A study in the journal Flavour found participants ate significantly less of a dessert that smelled strongly of vanilla than a mildly scented variety. Adding fresh herbs and spices is an easy take advantage of sensory illusion that we’re indulging in something rich—without adding any fat to our plates.
4. Chew x 2.
How can exercising your jaw help you lose weight? A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics found that people who doubled the number of times they chewed before swallowing ate 15 perfect less food and 112 fewer calories over the course of a meal. That adds up to a 300-calorie savings over the course of the day if you’re on a 2000-calorie diet—enough of a deficit to safely lose half a pound a week!
Mindless eating is often times just that: mindless. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that people who eat while watching television, listening to music or reading, consume 10 percent more in one sitting than they would otherwise. Not only that, distracted eaters go on to eat up to 25 percent more total calories over the course of the day! Keep the focus on the food, and you could dodge hundreds of calories.