The Ways Food Tricks Our Brains

The Atlantic:

In 1998, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania published a study that might strike you as kind of mean.

They took two people with severe amnesia, who couldn’t remember events occurring more than a minute earlier, and fed them lunch. Then a few minutes later, they offered a second lunch. The amnesic patients eagerly ate it. Then a few minutes later, they offered a third lunch, and the patients ate that, too. Days later, they repeated the experiment, telling two people with no short-term memory that it was lunch time over and over and observing them readily eat multiple meals in a short period of time.

This might seem like a somewhat trivial discovery, but it unveils a simple truth about why we eat. Hunger doesn’t come from our stomachs alone. It comes from our heads, too. We need our active memories to know when to begin and end a meal.

We are “a country of low-fat foods and high-fat people,” Brian Wansink and Pierre Chandon begin memorably in their paper showing that “low-fat” labels can contribute to over-eating, just as previous studies showed that labeling food samples as “small” seems to reduce our consumption guilt and encourage us to eat too much.

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

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