A recent study from Cornell University tested hunger versus a craving by telling a group of secretaries that they had won all the candy they could eat in a month. Part of the group were given candy dishes on their desk, part had candy dishes six feet from their desk and some were given opaque rather than clear containers. The results were that for those with candy on their desk an extra 225 calories of candy were consumed per day in the form of 9 Hershey Kisses. The secretaries who had to get up and walk six feet to retrieve the candy ate only four candies per day. Also, the secretaries who could see their candy through the container consumed about two more candies per day than those who were given opaque dishes.
When the group with the candy six feet away were asked if they ate less because the walk was too far their response was no. The main reason they ate less was because having to get up made them really think twice about if they were hungry or just emotional eating. I would definitely remember this study next time you find yourself in the kitchen after you have already consumed a full meal – are you really experiencing hunger right now? Take an extra five minutes to really think on that. Is it hunger or am I just bored/tired/stressed/lonely/etc.? And if it is not hunger, will eating really solve that emotion or just snowball it?
A trick that I will use when I find myself poking around the fridge is the following. I will think do green beans sound appetizing to me right now? If they do, generally I am experiencing hunger. If not – and all I can think about is the left over piece of cake I know is in the fridge somewhere – it’s a craving for sure!
Jessica, Nutrition Counselor