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Week 2 Lesson 2: Food environment triggers

Now that you simply understand how your social environment influences how much you eat, it is time to dig in to check how your food environment influences your calorie consumption.


The top 3 food environment triggers that influence how much we eat are:


  1. Availability of food
  2. Signs of consumption
  3. Serving sizes


Environmental Trigger 1: Availability of food


You know that having your favorite foods accessible will be a trigger to eat. But we bet you didn't know that having any food around -- particularly when we're distracted by other things -- will be a trigger.


People who ate stale popcorn from large buckets ate 53% more or 1.5 times what people that ate from medium buckets ate.


What does this mean? Simply having access to food is likely to cause you to eat it.


Environmental Trigger 2: Signs of consumption


The grad students were divided into two groups: Group 1  and Group 2.


"Group 1" students sat at tables where the leftover wing bones were removed.


"Group 2" students sat at tables where the leftover wing bones were kept on the table.


"Group 2" students who could see the aftermath of their appetites ate 20%.


Moreover, speaking of cookies, at the end of the meal everyone was offered chocolate chip cookies.


"Group 2" students declined dessert twice as often as those who didn't.


While we question whether the students are human, there's a moral to the story: Keep your eating scraps where you'll be able to see them and you'll eat less.


Environmental Trigger 3: Serving sizes


Half the participants during this study were unknowingly eating from a self-refilling bowl while the opposite half ate from regular bowls that were an equivalent size.


Guess what they found? The people eating from the bottomless bowls ate a whopping 73% more.


This proves that humans believe external cues (like serving size) instead of internal cues (like hunger and satiety) to tell how much they eat.

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