A mounting amount of evidence shows that eating with smaller bites and keeping your food for longer in your mouth makes you take in fewer calories. However, as all these studies have been done under standardised conditions in labs, it is not clear how you could do this in daily life. How can you keep taking smaller bites and keeping food in your mouth for longer while chatting or watching television?
In her latest article on the subject, Dieuwerke Bolhuis suggests choosing harder foods, which will need more chewing, to achieve just that without having to think about it.
Bolhuis and her colleagues asked 50 volunteers to have a meal of harder foods and one of softer foods for lunch on two different days. The volunteers ate as much as needed to feel “pleasantly full” while the researchers filmed them to determine their bite size and the time it took them to chew and swallow the food. The volunteers were invited for dinner on the same day as they had lunch. They could again eat as much as needed, and the researchers calculated the amount of energy they were taking in.
Eating harder foods indeed forced the volunteers to take smaller bites and chew longer, and led to a 13% lower energy intake. They did not compensate for this at dinner, which means that had eaten substantially less over the day without noticing any difference.
Click here to see the results as a graph: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3973680/figure/pone-0093370-g002/
If you could keep having about 13% less energy a day, you would quickly lose weight indeed. Moreover, the harder or chewier foods are often the healthier ones as well, as they are likely to be less processed or to contain more fibre. Unfortunately we do not know yet whether this can go on day after day: would your body end up compensating by eating more?
Anyway, it is certainly something to try out.
Disclaimer: this article is for general information only, and does not replace medical advice. It cannot be used to diagnose or guide treatment. If you have any concerns or questions, you should talk to a qualified health provider.
DP Bolhuis, CG Forde, Y Cheng et al. Slow food: sustained impact of harder foods on the reduction in energy intake over the course of the day. PloS One 2014; 9(4): e 93379. doi: 10.1371