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We have a lot of habits when it comes to eating—particularly at breakfast.  If you eat cereal for breakfast, it’s likely that you have developed a daily routine—a particular bowl you use, a place you sit, how much milk you pour in, what you sprinkle on top, for example.

A new study in the journal Appetite found that when you pour the milk into your bowl can make a significant difference to how much cereal you eat. 

In this study, participants either poured in the cereal first or the milk.  The result?  Participants who poured the milk before cereals significantly increased both milk and cereal amounts.  This resulted in larger overall portion sizes when compared to those who poured the cereal before adding milk.

In another part of the study, researchers looked at the impact of pouring apple juice before water.  When subjects poured apple juice first, their apple juice consumption increased by almost 25%.  Water consumption went up by 19% when poured first. 

Why?  For the cereal experiment, it may be that visual cues are important.  You are better able to see how much cereal is in the bowl when it goes it first.  However, it may have to do with the primacy effect.  In this theory, there is a tendency for person to recall the first item in a series of events best.  In other words, you are more mindful and process the first thing that happens more extensively.  Consider what happens when you go to a restaurant.  Do you drink more water when you are served water first?  Many reach for it automatically before ordering.

The take home message: This study suggests that the order in which you serve or pour food may matter more than you think.  Do an experiment.  Serve healthy foods and water first!  As I always suggest, just be as mindful of how you eat as what you eat.

Appetite. 2016 Jul 11. pii: S0195-6663(16)30278-1. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.07.011

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