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FOOL ME

These simple tricks can help you avoid binge eating without relying on your willpower

  • Siyi Chen
By Siyi Chen

Video Journalist

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

If you’ve been trying to use your will power to fight binge eating, you might have been wrong all this time.

There is an alternative—at least according to Dr. Aner Tal, a researcher from the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. The focus of his research has been on how to “trick” people into eating healthier by redesigning our environment and way of life.

And it starts with some very small and simple things. Like use smaller and lighter plates and cut your food into pieces. Or don’t watch TV (especially action movies or horror movies) while you eat. Or don’t go grocery shopping on a empty stomach.

Tal’s studies compare the behavior between controlled groups in order to see see how different external factors affect people’s perception and choice of food. And what he has found is that a lot of times, our decisions are not determined by rational, calculated choices but rather by simply reacting to stimuli or cues in the environment. For example, one of his studies found that if your plate is surrounded by empty food packages, you tend to feel fuller after you eat. That’s because the packages serve as visual cues that “tell” you, “You’ve eaten a lot already.”

“As humans, we have higher cognitive skills, but on the basic level, we’re still animals reacting to our environment. ” says Tal.

Watch the video above for some other strategies Tal has gleaned from his research.

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