Research shows people eat less of a snack they crave when they delay eating it.

Research Offers Simple Way to Snack Less on Foods You Crave


This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you crave certain foods and give in too easily to the urge to snack, do not despair. A new study offers valuable advice just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest snack day of the year!

Research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology showed that when subjects postponed eating a snack they craved to an unspecified time in the future, they ate less. Not only did they eat less of that food when they finally got around to having it, they ate less of it over the next week, which can be helpful if you have a lot of Super Bowl leftovers in the house.

A key finding from this study was that those subjects who put off eating the snack they desired to an unstated time in the future did much better than those who denied themselves eating any at all and those who gave themselves permission to eat all they wanted.

Why Postponing Works?

By postponing the opportunity to eat something you crave, you give yourself time for the desire to diminish, and that’s a good thing. Every minute you’re not eating those nachos, fried mozzarella sticks, or chocolate covered pretzels adds up to calories, fat, salt and sugar you did not consume.

This strategy also removes two other saboteurs to self-control: guilt and retaliation. Guilt comes into play when you immediately start eating all you want of the snacks calling out to you. Once you realize what you’ve done, guilt can trigger further gluttony. On the other hand, if you tell yourself you can’t have the snacks at all, you’re likely to feel deprived and will eventually retaliate and eat more than your share.

Delay Trumps Denial

The subjects were divided into three different groups. One group was allowed to eat the snack freely, another was told not to eat the snack, and the third was told they could eat it later. The researchers observed their behavior when offered two different snacks: candies and chips.

The results were the same whether the subjects were assigned to a group or got to select the group themselves. Those that were told to delay their snack ate the least. Those who were told not to eat the snack at all ate the most.

So as you get you game plan ready for the Super Bowl, here’s a cheer that is sure to make you a winner when the snacks are served:

“I think I’ll pass!”

Posted in Calories, Eating Habits, Eating Right, Family Traditions, HEALTH GOES STRONG, Hunger, Mindless Eating, Moderation, Snacking, Weight Control and tagged , , .

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