Remembering what we had in our previous meal helps us limit our food now.
Researchers from the University of Liverpool analysed 24 separate studies that examined the impact of awareness, attention, memory and distraction on the quantity of food we eat.
They found that remembering meals, being more aware and paying more attention to meals results in lower food consumption and could help with weight loss programmes.
Simple techniques such as writing down what you ate in your previous meal, using visual reminders of previous meals and keeping food wrappers of the items you had in the earlier meals helped preserve food memories and that led to a reduction in meal sizes.
Dr Eric Robinson, from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: “Our research found that if people recalled their last meal as being filling and satisfying then they ate less during their next meal.The studies we analysed looked at adults with healthy body mass index so additional work is needed to find out how this might affect people who are overweight”
This could be developed as a new strategy to help with weight loss and maintenance and reduce the need for calorie controlled dieting.
However, whilst techniques which remind you of what you have eaten reduce food consumption, some practical strategies to put these findings into practice need to be further developed.
The researchers also observed that being distracted when eating a meal leads to more consumption of the immediate meal; it has even more of an effect on later meals.
Distractions, which include watching television, listening to the radio or music or reading a newspaper at the dinner table, impede a person’s awareness of the food they are eating and results in over-consumption.
The research is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.