You rip open a packet of crisps or pop open a tube of potato chips, intending to only eat a few, but it is only when you’re picking up the last few salty crumbs, that you realize you ate the lot.
Guilt and condemnation often set in at this point, but you can’t undo the deed. The truck load of superfluous calories are now on their way to your hips.
Researchers from Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab have the answer to run away chip consumption………….
A bright red chip.
The red chip prompt
The Cornell team explored the power of red chips.
The experiment involved a whole lot of college students watching video clips in class. Munchies were provided to the group by the research team, the munchies came in the form of a tube full of chips, but the chips had been doctored…..
Chips which had been dyed bright red, were slipped in between the normal chips to designate serving suggestions, although this information about the “red” chips was not explicitly conveyed to the chip eaters. In case you’re wondering – a serving size was considered to be 5-7 chips, Ouch !
Red chips were like stop signs
The students tucked in, blissfully unaware of the subliminal messaging buried in the chip tube.
But, they got the hidden message.
When the number of chips eaten was tallied up. Those students snacking on the undoctored chip tube, pigged out. On average 45 chips were consumed.
Students diving into the tainted tubes – curtailed their chip consumption – eating 20 – 24 chips i.e. 50 % less.
The team put the students on the spot, at the end of their munching sessions, to find out if they had any idea how many chips they had actually eaten.
The group munching on the “segmented” tube were a whole lot better in estimating the number of chips they had eaten. Those eating “ordinary” chips, didn’t have a clue – underestimating their chip feast by 13 plus chips.
The trouble with mindless eating
Popping them into your mouth is almost inevitable, unless you stop to think. And thinking about such matters, while movie watching or chatting, is possible, but not all that likely.
Inserting red chips interrupts the semi-automated munching – just enough to break the pattern bringing “the mind” back into the eating.
Don’t count on the manufacture including red chips
In this experiment, the red chip dropped calorie consumption by approx 250 calories. Shaving off 250 calories, without creating a sense of deprivation, is going to keep the layers of fat off your hips etc.
So are “red chips” the answer to beating the obesity epidemic ? I doubt chip manufactures will be rush to add red chips to their offering, since the more chips you eat, the more moolla they make. But it might be a strategy that works for you.
If you tend to polish off packets of things – adding a stop sign might be just what your brain needs, to avoid a pig out. Hopefully it won’t be like waving a red rag in front of a bull – it is possible to blow your diet with small packages.Red potato chips: Segmentation cues can substantially decrease food intake. Health Psychology, 2012; 31 (3): 398 Andrew Geier, Brian Wansink, Paul Rozin.
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