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Just a Nibble of Chocolate Is Enough to Satiate Cravings

Larger portions lead to increased grazing, but there's no benefit when it comes to banishing cravings.

smithsonian.com

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For those with a sweet tooth or a love of snacking, cravings can be a powerful, seemingly invincible foe. In moments of weakness, even the most health-conscious eater may break down and gobble up a Snickers. New research shows, however, that the key to keeping these cravings at bay is not to resist but rather to limit portions. Those all-consuming bouts of chocolate lust, it turns out, can be satiated with just a tiny nibble.

Researchers at Cornell University wondered if most people would need to indulge far less than assumed in order to stifle cravings. They tested this assumption by tempting volunteers with chocolate chips, apple pie and potato chips. The study aimed to tease out whether people who were given smaller portions of snacks would feel hungry or satisfied 15 minutes after indulging in guilty snack pleasure.

The researchers divided partipants into two groups. The first group received large portions of snacks, or about 1370 calories of food. The second group got the same snacks but in portions that were mere fractions of the first group’s helpings, totaling 195 calories. After taking their time nibbling on the goodies, the participants filled out a survey about what they liked, were familiar with and were bored with about the food. They also described their level of hunger after taking a 15 minute break from eating.

The smaller serving size group reported the same feelings of satisfaction as the larger ones, though the larger portion group consumed 77 percent more food, or just over 100 calories extra. Larger portions, the researchers conclude, lead to increased grazing, but there’s no benefit when it comes to banishing cravings. Next time you’re faced with a snack dilemma, they suggest, why not try out the experiment yourself and see if just a nibble will do the trick?

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