A new study suggests that people who successfully control their diet eat fewer unhealthy foods because they are satisfied sooner.
Some people can exercise real self-control when it comes to eating while others overindulge on unhealthy cookies and candies.
Do the former have more willpower? Or are they simply satisfied more quickly?
In a series of experiments, researchers from Texas A&M University found that people with poor self-control were able to establish greater control when they paid close attention to the quantities of unhealthy foods they consumed because simply paying attention made them more quickly satisfied, the Journal of Consumer Research reported.
In one interesting study, a group of people were asked to eat either a healthy or an unhealthy snack. Some of them were asked to count how many times they swallowed while eating the snack, according to a Texas A&M statement.
People who counted the number of times they swallowed were satisfied more quickly even if they otherwise had a low level of self-control.
Monitoring how much they ate made consumers with low self-control behave like those with high self-control.
"One way is to keep better track of the quantity of unhealthy foods they eat," wrote authors Joseph P. Redden (University of Minnesota) and Kelly L. Haws (Texas A&M University).
"Although self-control is typically viewed as a battle between willpower and desire, consumers can't rely entirely on willpower to control their eating. They also need to create situations that will make them lose interest in food," they concluded.