Although switching to your niece or nephew’s silverware can cause a dent in your dignity, there are a few reasons why switching to smaller utensils works for permanent weight loss.
Eating with smaller utensils — and a smaller place setting altogether, actually — makes you more mindful of the food you eat. Using a petite spoon and fork requires a bit more concentration of the task at hand.
This level of concentration helps with feeling fuller, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011. In this study, when participants were distracted while eating (likely with their big-kid utensils), they were not aware when they were full and therefore ate more food.
The awareness of being full is linked to the speed at which we eat. It takes the brain a full 20 minutes to process that the stomach is full. This is due to the slow nature of the satiation-signaling hormone leptin.
But most people eat their share of a meal in less than 20 minutes, especially if they’re in a rush. The connection between putting less food in your mouth with each bite and eating slower is indisputable; if you need to take two or three small bites to equal one normal bite, you’ve slowed your eating time down.
Also, the amount of bites you take increases the amount of pancreatic juices secreted. This can be the most complicated part of the whole explanation, so stay with me.
Even before you’ve put food in your mouth, your intestines are at work. Say you’ve just smelled some awesome kettle corn (fair time, anyone?). Your stomach knows food is on the way and it gets ready to digest the snack.
When you start chewing, even more digestive chemicals are released by the pancreas to help move things along. Once you swallow and your stomach starts churning up the popcorn, the rest of the juices squirt into the the upper part of the small intestine known as the duodenum.
All of these reactions take time. Therefore, the more bites you take, the more gastric juices are secreted, and the better digestion goes overall.
Well, at least as good as digestion can go with a stomach full of kettle corn.
The mindfulness of eating, the time it takes to eat a meal with pint-sized flatware and the proper activity of your digestive tract are all part of the trick designed to fool your body into losing some permanent weight.