Halloween night is the highlight the year for any candy-loving kid. Many of us have memories of returning home with our bounty, emptying a tidal wave of mini chocolate bars onto the living room floor, and diving in. Of course, an hour later, you were curled up with a tummy ache. Your mother might have shaken her head and said “your eyes are bigger than your stomach”.
Well, Mom was onto something, because this type of visual over-eating is a very real phenomenon. Though most of us have grown out of the pillowcase-full-of-candy phase, you may be familiar with the shock of polishing off an entire bag of potato chips… when you intended to have just a handful.
In his brilliant book, How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer offers an example of this type of behavior, using M&M’s:
“One day (psychologists) left out a bowl of the chocolate candies and a small scoop. The next day they refilled the bowl with M&M’s but placed a much larger scoop beside it. The result would not surprise anyone who has ever finished a Big Gulp soda or a supersize serving of McDonald’s fries: when the scoop size was increased, people took 66% more M&M’s.“
In short, this means that we tend to let our eyes do the thinking – not our stomachs. A big part of the 80Bites program is learning to listen to your stomach. It’s about more just counting daily bites. It’s about training your whole body to assess a food situation before digging in. When faced with a buffet of tasty treats, you’re able to step back and ask yourself some questions: “How hungry am I? Based on how much I know my stomach needs to feel satisfied, how much food do I really need to take?” More often than not, your stomach is less excited than your eyes at the prospect of stuffing yourself silly.
So the next time you’re faced with food that’s a feast for the eyes, let it be just that.