British researchers found that chewing gum may help curb your cravings. When people chomped on sugarless gum for at least 15 minutes one hour after eating and then again at the two-hour mark, their desire for sweets decreased by 11 percent compared with that of study participants who didn't work their jaws. The gum chewers also downed, on average, 36 fewer calories when they were turned loose on a buffet of sweet and salty snacks three hours after lunch.
Although the researchers aren't sure why chewing sugarless gum helps, they suggest that because it exposes your tastebuds to sweetness, it could send a hunger-reducing signal to your brain. Interestingly, those who were the most calorie-conscious experienced an even greater effect from the gum, says study author Marion Hetherington, Ph.D.
6:00 PM Set the Dinner Table, Part 1
Using real dinnerware makes you feel like you've eaten a full meal, so you snack less before bedtime. In a Cornell study, people who ate from paper plates with plastic utensils tended to consider their food just a snack. Though they took in 116 fewer calories than the "real plate" group did, the scientists said they'd probably eat another meal later. "The environment tremendously influences how much we eat," says study coauthor Collin Payne, Ph.D.
Set the Dinner Table, Part 2
University of Massachusetts scientists found that people who watch TV during a meal consume, on average, 288 more calories than those who don't chew while changing channels. In the study, researchers had groups of people eat pizza or macaroni and cheese while either watching Seinfeld or listening to music. When intakes were tallied, the scientists determined that the television viewers downed 36 percent more calories from the pizza and 71 percent more from the mac and cheese. "When you're distracted by a TV show, your brain may not recognize that you're full as fast," says study author Elliott Blass, Ph.D.