Mindful eating makes smaller portions more satisfying

Posted on May 6, 2015

Have you ever been to an exclusive restaurant that serves tiny portions and found that, in spite of the paltry servings, you felt satisfied afterwards and the food seemed unusually tasty? If so, you might have engaged in what psychologists call "savouring" behaviours. Charles Areni and Iain Black have studied savouring under laboratory conditions, and they've found that when we're given smaller portions than normal, we eat differently - more slowly, more mindfully, and we feel more satiated as a result.

The researchers recruited dozens of undergrads for a supposed chocolate-tasting study. Half the participants were shown a tray of six delicious chocolates, to create the expectation that they would be tasting all six. In fact, after they'd tasted the first two, they were told that was the end of the experiment. The other half of the students were shown the tray of six chocolates, but told in advance that they would be tasting just two of them.

The students who knew they were only going to get to taste two chocolates ate more slowly than the students who thought they were going to taste all six, they also paid more attention to the flavour and texture of the chocolates, and they felt more satiated afterwards. They also enjoyed the chocolates just as much.

"Consumers compensate for small portions by attending more to the sensory properties of the food, altering their eating behaviour, and slowing their rate of eating," the researchers said, "which has the effect of increasing satiation, hence lessening their desire for more afterwards."

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Source material from British Psychological Society