It is never a costly experience, three year olds are interested in quantity. The option to receive five one cent coins, is significantly superior to the option to receive a single ten cent coin. A handful of coins brings lots and lots of smiles.
Unfortunately, a handful of coins fails to satisfy an older child, and by the time they hit adolescence, even a handful of notes, barely brings a smile. Grown ups want quality.
Our brains never grow up
When it comes to food.
More is always more valuable.
- Five chocolate chip cookies is better than two
- Ten chips is better than one
- Two backed potatoes is better than one.
- Six florets of broccoli, is better than two…..
Don’t be ridiculous, there is a big difference between growing up and being psychotic.
Some brains manage to indulge in a bit more broccoli than others, this arises because of a MATERNAL advantage or some clever culinary skills. But reaching out for more broccoli, typically requires a VERY GROWN UP BRAIN.
Our brains never grow up when it comes to “nice” things.
If it’s palatable we want quantity
The more is best phenomenon applies to all palatable foods.
Just for the record, our brain defines palatable foods as…
“Sweet, fatty or salty”
Foods that meet these characteristics are typically full of calories (which is why they make us fat), but in a by gone era of frequent famines, eating these calorie rich foods was critical for survival.
Bitter, which is the trouble with broccoli, is considered by the brain as potentially poisonous i.e. calories that could be more trouble than they’re worth.
Even in the land of plenty..
Research presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) indicates the human brain is wired for quantity.
The research reports on the munching habits of 301 college students.
To kick things off, each student was fed 82 g of bagel – for some the bagel was served completely undoctored, for others, their bagel had a close encounter with a knife. The “knifed” bagel had been cut into quarters.
Shortly after the opportunity to wolf down 82 g of bagel – the college students were offered a complimentary lunch.
Being perpetually hungry college students, they tucked in to their so-called FREE lunch, but behind the scenes, the team was WATCHING. Exactly how much bagel and lunch was eaten by each student, was carefully recorded.
Big bagels led to big lunches
Big bagels i.e. bagels that had been served whole, brought out big appetites at lunch time. The students who had eaten the uncut bagel ate more calories, period. They polished off the whole bagel and then climbed into lunch.
Students who had been served up multiple-pieces of bagel ate less. Some left bits of the bagel untouched and when it came to tucking into lunch, they consumed fewer calories.
These results suggest cutting food into multiple pieces, helps your brain feel more satisfied i.e. is more satiating.
More bits means more satisfied
If you’re watching how much you eat, this is critical information.
Stopping eating, particularly stopping the eating of “nice” things, poses a big challenge. Getting the chemical mix of what you eat right, is very beneficial, but being able to use a little psychology on yourself or your family, is also helpful.
So if your brain thinks 5 bits are better than one – use the knife and give it 5 bits.
- Cut the sandwich into quarters, hey if you up to it, try eighths and make sure they’re all peanut butter sandwiches too.
- Break the chocolate up into individual squares, before starting on it.
- Give yourself, two skinny slices of pie, instead of one big piece.
Many little things, can help keep portion size under control.
PS. Don’t advocate all responsibility to keep your appetite in check to smaller packages – when it comes to food, your brain more often than not, forgets to act like a grown up.Multiple pieces of food are more rewarding than an equicaloric single piece of food in both animals and humans – press release Society fro the Study of Ingestive Behaviour.
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