When it comes to snacking, size matters. A recent study reports that when two groups were offered unlimited consumption of candy, one group ate double the amount of the same candy offered to a second group of subjects. The difference? One group received the candy in its full size while the group that consumed less candy overall received the same candy cut in half. This suggests that simply reducing the actual size of your snack food may reduce overall calorie consumption during your snack period.
While portion control is important for losing and/or maintaining a healthy weight, take note that this was not a portion-size study. Portion-size studies keep the size of the food constant but manipulate the amount of food (Ex: a 10 oz. versus 20 oz. bucket of chicken nuggets, with each nugget weighing 1 oz.). Instead, this study altered the food item size without altering the portion of food provided.
The study had 33 normal weight (BMI<25) undergraduates who were offered cherry-shaped gummy candies and sweet-sour red gummy ribbons during an unrelated computerized experiment. Participants were given either the small candy size or large candy size during their computer experiment and told that they were a token of appreciation for participation and that they could eat as much as they liked. Regardless of the size of the candy provided, participants ate approximately six to seven candies. This resulted in an average of 60 fewer calories consumed by the participants who ate six to seven of the candies cut in half versus the full-sized candies.
Trying to consume fewer calories without feeling deprived of your afternoon snack? Eating the same snack food, but in a smaller size may be your answer. Try taking your favorite snack or indulgence like dark chocolate-covered raisins and cutting them in half; you’ll feel treated and you’ll probably eat far less.