We’ve always known we eat with our eyes, but do our eyes impact how much we eat?
It seems whether we can see our food makes a significant difference in how much we eat, according to a study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference,
In the study, researchers asked 90 students to eat various flavors of ice cream and then share their thoughts on the taste and texture of what they had eaten. Half the group did this while wearing darkened ski goggles. The study discovered that those wearing blindfolds were better able to describe taste and texture, and also ate 9 percent less. Interestingly, both groups believed they had eaten much more than they actually had. The non-blindfolded group overestimated their consumption by 33 percent while the blindfolded group overestimated by a staggering 88 percent. The study surmised this could be because ice cream falls under our “forbidden” foods category and so enjoying it can also summon feelings of guilt.
“Eating blindfolded helps people to be more mindful of their internal cues. Often we use external cues to know when to stop eating like your plate is empty or other people stop eating. Taking away the visual cues allows you to hear the inner voice that guides your eating habits and says 'Stop, I'm full!'” says best-selling author and Cleveland Clinic psychologist Susan Albers, Psy.D., author of 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food. “For those who have lost track of their hunger and fullness cues, it is a great experiment that you can try at home. Eat a meal with a blindfold and see how it taps into and heightens your other sensations. It's likely that this will even change your enjoyment
Beyond making us taste and appreciate food more, it can also help us control how much food we put in our body. “We do eat more with our eyes than anything else. Why do you think gourmet chefs take all that time making beautiful dishes?” says Miami-based nutritionist Monika Paez. “How about those marketing strategies where you see a food commercial and immediately want to run to that restaurant and eat whatever it is they are selling? In a society full of Instagram, Snapchat and endless texts, we don't really pay attention to how much our bodies are consuming while we eat. We are focused on 100 other things rather than listening to our bodies. Being blindfolded allows us to really tune in to what our body is telling us and helps us realize when we are actually full, as opposed to eating with distractions, in which we just eat and eat until there's no more food on our plate. This is a great way to eat less because you will stop eating once you're full, helping you consume less calories and ultimately, lose weight.”
You may not be ready to try dining in the dark, but maybe this is a greater lesson to stop and savor your next meal.