Visual Cues Can Help You Make Healthier Food Choices

visual cues, food, choices


Visual Cues Can Help You Make Healthier Food Choices

Written by: Sarah Lawrence

Remember those potato chip ads that taunted, “Bet’cha can’t eat just one!” Well, the truth is that how much you eat can be influenced by subtle visual cues and packaging.

This is true for food in general, but let’s work with chips for a minute. Researchers gave 100 students some tubes of stackable potato chips to eat while watching a movie. 50 students got normal tubes and the other 50 students got tubes that had a red tomato flavored chip inserted into the stack at varying intervals.

A few things happened; the students who ate from the tubes with the red chips:

1. Consumed half as much as the students who ate from the tubes without red chips.

2. Were able to accurately estimate the number of chips they consumed while their counterparts grossly underestimated their consumption.

These results equated to significantly fewer calories and a better feeling from the participants. The take-away: You have an easier time judging portion size when appropriate visual cues are present and you will tend to regulate your consumption when you recognize that you’re at the portion mark.  

Plus, like the participants, you feel better when you are in control of what you eat and when you know that you’ve done a good job with your nutrition choices.

Besides red chips in stackable tubes (which aren’t in commercial production), there are other visual cues that make a difference in how much you eat. For example, studies show that you consume more from larger plates and bowls and when it is visible and within reach. What’s crazy too is that you are likely to modulate what you eat to match what the person sitting next to you is eating; sometimes more, sometimes less.  

Simple shifts to try:

1. Repackage snack food into smaller containers that are serving size appropriate.

2. Choose smaller plates and bowls.

3. When eating out, try places that serve  on smaller plates. It can be a nice change from mega portions and you can be assured that your meal mates will be eating similar portion sizes!

What are your thoughts on portion sizes and visual cues? What tips do you have for avoiding overeating? Share with us in the comments below!

Source, source, source

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Brian Wansink, PhD


Sarah Lawrence

Sarah Lawrence

Certified Holistic Health Nutrition Coach at Sarah Lawrence Health
Sarah Lawrence is a Certified Holistic Health and Integrative Nutrition Coach, Speaker and Reiki Master based in Southern NH. Sarah creates lifestyle transformations by coaching her clients to shift from their current habits into healthier ones. Her philosophy is that small changes, over time, can yield big results. By developing a technique that leverages the benefits of whole foods nutritionals, seasonal detoxification, reiki, aromatherapy, meditation and life coaching, Sarah artfully combines her knowledge from years of study in the fields of chemistry, nutrition and energy healing.

Sarah leads clients from frustration due chronic health issues to elation by attaining and sustaining balanced health. Her intuitive style supports true healing on all levels. Sarah studied at Fairfield University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition; she is pursuing her Masters in Clinical Nutrition and is dedicated to continuing her studies so she can provide the best support for her clients.
Sarah Lawrence


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