Do you ever wonder why people say that you should never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach? Well, if you shop hungry, you could end up buying more of the treats you want at that moment rather than the foods you need to make your healthy meals and snacks. When your stomach starts to growl with hunger, your patience can wear thin. This could lead you to buy or eat the ﬁrst food you see, healthy or not. Research has shown that people, when hungry, will eat more of whatever they see or whatever is served to them ﬁrst.
THE RESEARCH BUFFET
A study from Cornell University presented a set of breakfast buffets to a group of 124 people. The first buffet started with healthy fruit, low-fat yogurt, and granola, while the second buffet started with unhealthy cheesy eggs, fried potatoes, and bacon. Both healthy and unhealthy foods were on each buffet. At the “healthy” buffet line, more than three quarters of diners chose fruit, while only about half chose fruit at the “unhealthy” buffet. Three fourths of the diners in the “unhealthy” buffet line chose cheesy eggs, compared to only one third of people in the “healthy” buffet line. Overall, the first three foods the diners saw on the buffet line took up most of their plates. This just shows that how you start your meal can affect what you eat during the rest of your meal.
To give each meal a healthy start and finish, use these tips:
• Eat your veggies or salad first. If you eat a large amount of fiber-rich foods that are high in volume and low in calories, it makes you feel a bit full. This can help decrease your appetite for the higher-calorie starchy foods that may be on your plate.
By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN • Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD