Who remembers what they ate the night before when they wake up in the morning? Or even what their breakfast was at lunchtime? You probably think it doesn’t matter, but according to new research, it may help you control your appetite.
In the British study, individuals who had vivid memories of what they ate were more likely to consume less at their following meal. Researchers are uncertain if this was due to the exact memory of the food eaten or the memory of the calories consumed, but both were associated with changes in the amount eaten overall.
From collecting 24-hour recalls from my patients, I have found too often that many people completely forget what they ate after finishing a meal. Perhaps it is because they are multi-tasking while dining, simply eating too rapidly, or even having foods that they don’t love. In any event, this lack of memory could be a reason they are overeating and not losing weight.
As a general rule, I ask my patients to food journal. Nine times out of ten, the person who journals 100 percent of the time is the one who loses weight. This daily accountability of all foods eaten and the ability to review it afterward seem to help keep extra calories at bay.
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Honestly, I am not a big fan of actual calorie counting, but I am a huge advocate of being calorie-conscious, which a food journal can capture nicely. But journaling may not be for everyone, especially if you have the memory of an elephant or if you tend to think about what you are eating 24/7. Other tactics to help you remember what you ate include:
1. Slowing down. The slower you eat and the more time you take to savor every bite, the more likely you probably are to remember what you had.
2. Playing food paparazzi. Supposedly some restaurants have a problem with patrons snapping photos of their meals, but there’s nothing like a great pic of your entrée to keep the memory of that dish alive, so I say go for it.
3. Keeping the evidence. At a party, hold onto the stirrers from your cocktails and the napkins from hors d'oeuvres so you have an easy count of how many you consumed.
4. Being shell-shocked. Buy nuts in the shell, keep the remains nearby, and count them when you are finished. It will hopefully lead you to put the bag away.
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So here’s to a having a good memory in the hopes that it might keep you more in-tune to what you already ate and the potential to eat less later on. Now if only I could find my keys!