Lose weight: does chopped food make you eat less?


The way we distribute the food on the plate and above all the size of the food can make the difference. In particular, small pieces give the feeling of having eaten more, even with the same quantity. This is demonstrated by a Chinese study, which confirms how much the mind can influence nutrition and diet.

The Chinese study: Food in small pieces is better

Researchers from Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China, conducted a study taking a sample of 34 people with an average age of 20. All were presented with 60 images of chocolate in quantities ranging from 60 to 200 grams, arranged in different ways on the plate and above all in pieces of different sizes. For example, for the same quantity of 100 grams, the bar was presented whole or cut and there were 6 photos in which the chocolate was presented divided between 9 and 16 squares.

Participants were asked from time to time to guess, without knowing it, the exact amount of chocolate. As emerged from the research, published in the magazine Food Quality and Preferenceit was seen that the images with more pieces of cake were considered more abundant than those which, despite having the same portion in terms of weight, had fewer squares.

The power of the mind in diets

Why, then, does the mind “make a mistake” and overestimate the dish with a greater number of pieces, even if they are smaller? «In truth, some scientific research had already highlighted this phenomenon by demonstrating that the size of the portion of food eaten influences its consumption. These findings imply that we can adjust people’s perceived portion sizes by varying the number of foods per unit, thus prompting individuals to make more rational portion size decisions. In particular, some studies have shown that when food portion size is doubled, consumption increases by 35%» explains the professor Luigi Schiavoresearcher and professor of Human Nutrition and Applied Dietetics, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry “Scuola Medica Salernitana”, University of Salerno.

According to Chinese researchers, the study provides “practical indications for reducing consumption” of food. The mind, therefore, can condition the sense of satiety? «It is a phenomenon known in scientific literature as “serving size effect”. In particular, some studies have shown that, by varying the size of the portions of a given food, the consumption of this food will change unconsciously. It is a trick that we nutritionists too often use with patients suffering from obesity, advising, at meals, to use smaller plates. In fact, even a little food seems to be more on a small plate», clarifies Schiavo, who is also responsible for the “Dietetics and Nutrition Clinic” departmental university assistance program at the University of Salerno.

The previous one – the so-called red plate trick

Precisely by exploiting unconscious effects, another study was conducted some time ago which led to the affirmation that eating on a red plate induces a state of alert and danger, which would lead to eating less.

So, could acting on the mind help make some weight loss strategies more effective? «In a sense yes, because by increasing the perceived portion size of foods and exploiting the mechanism of the portion size effect we can help people reduce food intake and consequently theintake, therefore the overall contribution, of calories», explains Schiavo. “In other words, we can make people feel satisfied by consuming relatively less food».

The extra tip: learn to chew

But are there other tricks to help reduce calorie intake? «A further important piece of advice is to practice correct chewing – suggests the expert -. In fact, it has been proven that it exists a correlation between chewing and satiety: in particular those who chew slowly and then savor the food calmly arrive at the end of the meal more satisfied and satisfied. In this regard, I like to recall that the two cornerstones of the doctrine of the Salerno Medical School, in which I have the honor of teaching, “Equilibrium between body and mind” and “Attention to the nutritional aspect in the treatment of diseases”, had, with some hundred years in advance, noticed the correlation between mind and body. Further confirmation comes from the “Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum” (Salerno health regulation), a didactic treatise from 1852 by the Salerno doctor and author Salvatore De Renzi, who among the various pieces of advice disclosed correct chewing (Before digestion fit in hours)anticipating what has since been amply demonstrated by scientific research», concludes Schiavo.