We think we are in complete control of our senses but there’s a new study that proves just how unperceptive we can be about our food intake.  Now we are learning that the color of cutlery influences our perception of how food tastes.

One study finds that size shape and weight of the spoon affects how people assess flavor. Some assessments went so far as tasting “expensive” because the spoon was heavier.  What it tells me, as a nutritionist is that the brain makes judgements even before food goes into your mouth which indicates that we are less aware and more influenced by our surroundings than we think.

Previous studies have shown how we are more inspired to eat more jellybeans if there are more colors and that the placement of a candy dish which is clear or opaque influences how many we pop into our mouths.

This backs up my oft repeated phrase that “willpower does not exist; only systems work”.  The best and most effective way to control your food intake and consciously enjoy what is going in your mouth is to have an unwavering process through which you chew each day.

Another study suggested that employers should feed their staff or at least insist on a lunch break. The study found that lunch skippers were more likely to make poor or risky decisions since the flight or fight triggers fired when hunger was at play.  (In my world, we call it “hangry”) This state caused less clear thinking and more aggressive behavior.  Blame your employer if your cubicle mate is ticking you off by 3 o’clock.

Some tips on how to fix it:

The more systematic you can make your life, the fewer decisions you will have to make on the fly.

  • Breakfast is always the same on weekdays – Magic Muesli
  • Exercise is put first daily, even a 10 minute round of jumping jacks will set you up for success
  • Pack a lunch. Soups and Stews or leftover salads are right in the fridge begging to come along
  • Take a break and eat lunch. Duh.
  • Have a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts at 3 pm
  • Do what you want for dinner as long as you have 2 vegetables and nothing deep fried

See? Simple.

Theresa Albert is an author and private, on call nutritionist in Toronto. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.theresaalbert.com