Wearing a “bite counter” on your wrist while eating can help cut down on how much you consume during a meal, new study findings suggest.
While the bite counter will not help people choose healthier food, it does give feedback in real time as they are eating based on wrist motion.
It’s then up to you to make an informed decision of whether or not to keep eating or to push the plate away and stop eating before you overeat.
The study, conducted by researchers from Clemson University in South Carolina, involved 94 participants, mostly young women who had a body mass index (BMI) of 23, which indicates that they were in the upper mid-range of normal weight.
The subjects ate meals together in a lab set up to mimic a restaurant setting. Some participants wore bite counters, which also gave calorie estimates as people ate, while other participants did not wear counters and acted as a comparison group.
The study looked at whether people changed how much they ate when getting bite-count feedback from the wrist-worn device. Participants were further split into groups depending on the size of the plates they were eating from.
Bite counters prompted people to eat less from large and small plates
People eating only from large plates ate more than those with small plates, around 4.5 extra bites. This was true even when participants received bite count feedback.
However, people eating from both the large and small plates and getting bite count information significantly reduced how much they ate, taking five fewer bites than people unaware of how many bites they were taking.
Keep in mind, though, the results could be different if the study was conducted in an overweight group.
Monitoring your intake using a food diary or food tracking app is another way to help you become more aware of what you eat and drink.
When people don’t want to keep a food diary, becoming more aware of “how” they eat by using smaller plates and monitoring bites may be helpful.
The key, said the researchers, is to change your behavior slowly over time in a way that your body and mind can adjust to these changes.
While most dieters want fast change, the necessary steps can be difficult to sustain.
Source: J Acad Nutr Diet, online 2016.
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