I was at the supermarket yesterday and there were a number of free samples available throughout the store. Earlier that day, my local coffee shop had put out bite-sized pieces of muffins, and when I got home last night, a free sample of a new food product was in my mailbox. Freebies are everywhere, and each one tends to draw us in like a magnet – we think (often unconsciously), “What the heck, it’s free” or “Ooooh, free food!” Think about how often you eat food you haven’t sought out, whether it be the treat you accepted from a co-worker just to be polite, or the fortune cookie that comes with your check at a Chinese restaurant. On a day to day basis, free food can easily tack on an additional 250 mindless calories a day, enough to cause your body to hang onto an extra 20-25 pounds!
Here’s what interesting - studies show that you're more likely to perceive free food as not so tasty (to your brain, free equals low value, kinda like a free pen or key chain). And, it’s very unlikely that you’ll compensate for the extra calories by cutting back at other meals or snacks.
If you find yourself habitually saying yes, break the pattern by asking yourself these three questions every time a gratis opportunity presents itself:
1) A 50 calorie sample means an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill (at 4 mph) – is worth it? If so, what’s your plan to fit it in?
2) If it weren't free, would you stop to buy it? If it’s not worth your hard-earned money, it’s not worth your well deserved calories.
3) If you say, “No thanks” will you regret it later, tomorrow or a week from now? Passing up a free vacation is one thing, but if a free cookie is easily forgettable!
Are you a free food fanatic? Please share!