Smaller Portions can still Satisfy Hunger

March 7, 2013 BY: LISA


How much chocolate would you need to eat to be satisfied? Less than half as much as you think, according to this recently published Cornell University snacking study. Using chocolate chips, apple pie, and potato chips, researchers Ellen van Kleef, Mitsuru Shimizu, and Brian Wansink designed a study to determine if people who were given smaller portions of snack foods would feel hungrier or satisfied fifteen minutes after eating.

Two groups with different portion sizes were tested. The larger portion size group was given 100g of chocolate, 200g of apple pie, and 80g of potato chips, all slightly larger than the recommended portion sizes. This equaled 1370 calories in snack foods. The other group was given 10g, 40g, and 10g of these same foods respectively, for a total of 195 calories. The two groups were given as much time to eat as needed, and were asked to fill out surveys to rate the liking, familiarity, and boredom with the food. They were also asked to rate their hunger and craving before the food was presented and fifteen minutes after the taste tests ended.

The results remarkably showed that smaller portion sizes are capable of providing similar feelings of satisfaction as larger ones. Those given larger portions consumed 77% more food, amounting to 103 calories more, but they did not feel any appetite enhancing or stronger feelings of satiety than the group with the smaller portions. Overall these findings reflect the importance of portion size. While larger portions result in increased food intake, smaller portions may make you feel equally satisfied. The smaller portions can lead to a decline in hunger and desire that would help people limit their food intake. So, next time you are craving a snack food, remember that you can feel similarly satisfied with one handful as you would with two.

This new research tied in really nicely to something I was working on to help people understand how they can eat less and still be satisfied. I call it:

Six Degrees of Satisfaction’


               1               2           3           4           5           6


Starving Hungry                                                                  Stuffed Full

Imagine this continuum where at one end you are really hungry and the other extreme is stuffed full like after Christmas lunch. In between are six levels of satisfaction, each representing a slightly larger portion and a fuller feeling in your stomach after eating. Given that most Aussie’s eat until their plate is finished rather than eating until they are satisfied, it is fair to assume that most of us eat until we are closer to really full on this scale, rather than closer to empty; and at this point we say we are “Satisfied.”

Let’s say you are eating until you are satisfied to the level of 5 or 6 on the scale. Using this new research we know that you will also be satisfied if you eat less. So the idea is to dish up less and aim to be feeling satisfied at the level of a 2 or 3 on the scale. What you end up with is smaller portions and a slightly different feeling at the end of the meal. Remember this new feeling is still satisfied it’s just slightly less full.

Have you ever eaten a smaller meal and been surprised that you were actually not hungry? It is only our assumption that we will be hungry that prevents us from eating less or adding that extra spoonful of dinner “Just in case you get hungry.” It is also that a lot of people eat to achieve that full feeling in their stomach-this is what they are used to. Eating less will feel different but reassure yourself, if weight loss is your goal, that you can do this and still feel satisfied that you are no longer hungry.

The action for you is to be curious about your hunger levels rather than thinking you know how you will feel if you eat less. This strategy can be applied at both meals and snacks.

Remember weight loss is about eating less. Imagine if you could eat less and still be satisfied. That means you get to lose weight without the hunger pains= sustainable change. If you cut back too much and get hungry- that’s okay- you can always have a snack later (smaller of course!)

Good Luck with the Six Degrees of Satisfaction!

Lisa APD


All enquiries, Lisa 0413 956 107 Appointments 1300 725 806
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