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How Much You Eat and Why

Do you know how much you eat?  I bet you think you do.  Do you know why you eat that amount?  Maybe – at the very least ‘why’ you eat it is loosely based on your food preferences and hunger but that’s not all. These are ‘factors of consumption’ – and just ‘cause you can’t see, hear or feel them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

There’s been a lot of research about the subconscious factors that determine what and how much we eat, and the results are in: we are terrible at regulating and monitoring how much we eat if we’re not paying close attention.


Though self-monitoring is the #1 determining factor of consumption, here are environmental factors that affect self-regulation:

  1. Temperature.  If you eat in a cold environment, you are likely to consume more food and in a hot environment, you’re likely to consume less food but more drinks.
  2. Lighting.  In dimmed, soft light you are going to consume more.  People are more comfortable in soft light so they are less inhibited.  Less inhibition leads to more consumption.
  3. Music.  Soft, slower music is associated with longer meal duration.  The longer you’re at a meal, the more likely you are to overeat (and over drink)!
  4. Required effort.  If you have to put more work into the meal, you’ll probably eat less.  In studies, obese people eat more shelled nuts than unshelled.  Similarly, secretaries eat more Hershey’s kisses when they’re on the desk than if they’re 2 meters away (only 2 meters)!
  5. Distractions.  If you watch TV or read a magazine while eating a meal, you’ll end up ’mindlessly snacking’ for some of it; that is to say you’ll graze, even if you’re full!
  6. Socializing. These statistics are crazy to me but if you’re eating with one other person, you’re going to eat an average of 33% more than if you were alone.  If you’re with….
    • 2 people, you’ll eat about 47% more
    • 3 people, you’ll eat about 58% more
    • 4 people, 69% more
    • 5 people, 70% more
    • 6 people, 72% more
    • 7 people, 96% more.  That’s almost double what you would have eaten!

The point is that the people with the best weight management techniques pay attention to and monitor what they eat.  A little effort can save hundreds of calories.


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