Top Ten Diet Tips Based on the Effects of Memory on AppetiteCaretakers have observed in patients suffering from episodic memory loss such as those with Alzheimer's disease an interesting phenomenon. Those who are unable to form new memories will often times eat a complete meal, feel hungry shortly afterwards, and then consume another entire complete meal as if they had not even eaten the first. Memory, it seems, has a real affect on satiety.
Additional studies have confirmed this link. They have shown that people are likely to eat more when they are distracted while eating (such as eating while watching television). Conversely, another study demonstrated that simply reminding people of how much they ate in one meal can cause them to eat less in a subsequent meal.
In one of these studies, titled Episodic Memory and Appetite Regulation in Humans , participants were given a bowl containing either a 10 oz or 17 oz serving of soup and asked to eat the entire portion. The clever part of the study was each bowl was rigged with a concealed tube that allowed the researchers to imperceptibly drain or refill the bowl as the participant was eating. This allowed the researchers to trick the participants into eating more or less than they thought they had eaten.
Half of the participants ate the actual amount they believed they had eaten. The other half either ate 10 oz thinking they had eaten 17 oz, or ate 17 oz while thinking they had only eaten 10 oz.
The participants were asked about their hunger level immediately after the meal. Predictably, those who ate more reported feeling more full. What was interesting is that two or three hours later, the story changed. When asked at a later time, the participants' reported level of satiety now aligned with the perceived amount of soup consumed. People reported feeling more full depending on how much soup they thought they had eaten, regardless of how much they had really eaten. These results suggest our memory of what we have eaten has more of an effect on our appetites than the physical feeling of being full.
This knowledge can prove very helpful if you are looking to shed a few pounds. Given that diet is typically thought to account for 75% of weight loss (25% is exercise) and hunger is one of the top reasons people give for quitting diets, any tools you can use to feel more full can make a difference.
Below are ten tips for losing weight based on our understanding of how memory affects appetite.
 Brunstrom JM, Burn JF, Sell NR, Collingwood JM, Rogers PJ, Wilkinson LL, et al. (2012) Episodic Memory and Appetite Regulation in Humans. PLoS ONE 7(12): e50707.
Good idea so you remember how much you ate. Will try sometime and tell my mom and dad who work out to try it.
This is all common sense, but also consider drinks such as fruit smoothies and meal replacement shakes. Commercially sold drinks of these varieties can contain anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand calories. Given a liquid drink seems much less like a solid meal, it's unlikely your memory of a drink is going to produce a the same feeling of satiety as a traditional meal, even if the calorie content is similar.
Another tip that is already standard dieting advice. In the context of this list, this tip is still relevant because recency affect memory. The less time there is between meals, the easier it is to remember them accurately.
When eating, we think of things in terms of number of plates or number of glasses. You can use this to your advantage simply by reducing the size of your china. When you think back on a meal and remember eating a plate of spaghetti with a bowl of green salad, the amounts will be the same in your head and consequently how full you feel will be the same despite having eaten less.
Asking to split the meal with another person up front may get you a dirty look from a temperamental server, but you'll end up with a more reasonable portion, will likely feel sufficiently full, and will save some money you can use to compensate the server for the inconvenience.