Forgot What You Had for Lunch? Beware Unhealthy Snacking

Chicken Club
The Feast/Lesley Elliott

More proof it pays off to keep track of what you eat: A new study has found that those who were able to remember what they ate were less likely to snack later.

"The consensus emerging is that beyond the food itself, the memory of a meal -- or, conversely, the absence of its memory -- plays a big role in what you eat next," reports New York Magazine.

The study, to be published in the journal Appetite, asked three groups of participants to consume the same lunch: a ham sandwich, chips and water, about 500 calories in total, according to New York Magazine. One group ate the lunch with only their random thoughts for company. Another ate while reading a newspaper story about changes in the size of chocolate bars and fizzy drinks in England. The last group ate while listening to an audio clip encouraging them to focus on the look, smell, flavors, and textures of their food.

An hour later, the researchers brought the subjects back and put before them plates of cookies. Those who had focused on their lunch ate roughly 50 percent fewer chocolate-chip cookies and 60 percent fewer chocolate fingers than those who had eaten their lunches mindlessly.

The harried New Yorker who dismisses the possibility of being able to focus so intently on their lunch during their busy workday has little excuse: one of the study's authors said that the food-aware eaters only took ten minutes to finish their lunches, the same time as the other two groups.

So even if that lunch isn't the healthiest you can muster while on the run, "[i]t is enough to just notice what you are experiencing," Jessica Donohoe urged.

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