Simply believing that you had a good meal may keep you full longer

People who believe that they've had a large meal are likely to feel more satisfied and less hungry hours after eating, a new study finds.

The memory of having eaten a large meal can make people feel less hungry hours afterward, according to research published December 5. ©auremar/shutterstock.com

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK showed 100 university students either a small 10-ounce/295 mL serving of cream of tomato soup or a larger 17-ounce/503 mL serving before lunch.

For some of the students, as they sat down to eat, researchers changed the amount in the soup bowl through a hidden pump, so that subjects ate 17 ounces rather than 10 ounces without noticing. Others ate 10 ounces while thinking it was 17 ounces.

After the meal, students described their hunger level, which was proportionate to the amount of soup they had actually eaten, not the amount they had seen just before eating. However, two to three hours later, students who had seen the larger portion but really eaten the smaller amount reported being less hungry than students who had seen the smaller portion but ate a larger quantity of soup.

The effect was still to be found 24 hours later, when students who had seen the larger portion of soup but eaten the smaller amount said that the lesser amount would have filled them up.

"This study is exciting because it exposes a role for cognition in the control of hunger," says study author Jeffrey Brunstorm. "Appetite isn't governed solely by the physical size and composition of the meals we consume."

The study appeared online Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal PloS One.

According to a study earlier this year, losing weight and eating right could be as simple as switching up your tableware and redecorating your dinner table. Published in the Journal of Consumer Research in January, the study's findings suggested that when subjects chose smaller plates in contrasting colors, they reduced their portion size between 9 and 31 percent.

Access the new study: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0050707

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