The Red Chip Means Stop: How edible food cues can put the brakes on overeating

The Red Chip Means StopFor many patients of medical weight loss in Fayetteville, overeating can be a major danger. Tempting snack foods challenge our self-control, inviting us to snack mindlessly to completely derail an otherwise productive day of weight loss dieting.

As you’re losing weight in the Fayetteville and Syracuse area, it might be helpful to learn some tactics that can help to stop your hand from constantly finding its way back into that bag of chips. Sometimes, this amounts to finding emotional triggers that cause you to overeat and learning how to overcome them. For other people, simply eating foods that are higher in fiber or protein and satisfy you more quickly may do the trick. But in two recent studies, researchers found a more unorthodox approach: mixing in edible “stop signs” that subconsciously keep us from overindulging.

Studying the Red Lights of Overeating

The studies, performed at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab tested the snacking limits of 98 undergraduate students by giving them tubes of Lays Stackables, a Pringle-like potato chip. In the first study, researchers added one red-dyed chip at intervals of seven chips, to mark one serving size, and another after 14 chips to denote two serving sizes. Another group of students was used as a control, receiving chips that were completely unmarked. In the second study, researchers changed the intervals to five and 10.

Students were allowed to munch freely while watching videos in class. Though the students were not told that the red chips were significant in any way, the students who were faced with these subconscious cues ate about 50 percent fewer chips than those in the control group. Students with the seven chip interval ate an average of 20 chips, those with the 14 chip interval ate an average of 24 and those in the control group averaged a whopping 45 (nearly 7 servings).

What’s more, the students with the red chips were able to guess their total consumption within one chip in both studies, while the control group was off by an average of 13. The high consumption rates of the control group show how common it is for people to snack out of control, chowing down on whatever tasty food is in front of them without realizing just how much they’re eating. Though we often eat what we imagine are acceptable portions, our perceptions of snack volume often do not match reality.

The Takeaway

Researchers reported that their edible stop signs reduced overall snack intake by about 250 calories, showing that adding visual food cues may be a valuable way to curb overeating. Their findings indicate that adding these cues to food packaging may help people to end their snack automation by allowing them to keep better track of just how much they’re actually eating, whether consciously or subconsciously. Though this topic obviously requires more research and may take time to be implemented in commercial food packaging, coming up with your own system of food markers may be a good way to keep your snacking habits under control.