To Slim Down, Take Smaller Bites

A study finds that eating bite-sized portions, and savoring the flavor for several seconds, can help you feel satisfied sooner and perhaps lose weight.

July 27, 2009

Small wonder: Slow, small portions of flavorful foods will fill you up sooner.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Eating the smallest of bite-sized foods, and eating them slowly, can help you eat dramatically less food, according to a new, small study published in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


THE DETAILS: Researchers from the Netherlands found 22 healthy young adults who like chocolate custard and fed them different portion sizes of the food to determine if eating different bite sizes can impact how fast someone feels full. They also asked the participants to chew for three or nine seconds to see if chewing more slowly impacted how much they ate overall. The found that those who ate the smallest bite sizes, five grams, and chewed each bite longer, nine seconds, felt full sooner and ate 65 percent less food than those who ate 15-gram bites and chewed for only three seconds.

WHAT IT MEANS: The obesity epidemic is in overdrive in this country, putting millions of people at risk of developing obesity-related health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, thyroid problems, and an increased risk of certain cancers, among other things. Regular exercise and a sensible meal plan are key strategies for weight loss. But if you pay a little more attention to how you eat, eat more slowly, and focus on smaller bites, you could start slipping into your jeans a little more easily. Plus, you’ll enjoy your food a lot more.

Here’s how to lose weight fast and feel full:

• Take it slow. At some point or another, your mother probably yelled at you for inhaling your dinner faster than a Hoover sucks cat hair off the floor. Well, she was right. This study and others have found people eat hundreds fewer calories a day if they take the time to chew each small bite longer—preferably for at least nine seconds. Make a point of eating this way, and eventually it will become second nature.


• Don’t drink your food. Previous research out of the Netherlands found that when people take things calories liquid form, they consume 30 percent more than if it were real food. Cut back on sugary soft drinks and juices. Instead, pack your house with small, healthy snacks, fruits, and vegetables. Make water your primary beverage of choice.

• Stock up on small, flavorful, nutrient-packed snacks. Things like wild blueberries (available fresh or frozen) can help lower blood pressure because they contain powerful plant compounds, but the berry’s small size alone makes it a good snack because little bites tend to lead to eating less. Just make sure to chew slowly at least six or so times so you savor the flavor. Fiber-rich almonds are another good choice. Eating 1 ounce a day could make you feel fuller faster. A 2004 study found those who got most of their fat from 3 ounces of almonds lost 56 percent more fat, and 62 percent more weight, than those sticking to a low-fat diet containing no almonds.

• Think twice about a big hunk of potato. Instead of plopping a big potato onto your dinner plate, replace it with protein-packed grains like bulgur or quinoa. The individual grains are tiny, filling, and make great leftover snacks.

• Make your own. You can make your main course a bite-sized delight, too. To get started, try this healthy, Quick and Cool Chicken Bites recipe from the Rodale Recipe Finder.

Tags: weight loss