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Your deadline is making you overeat

Your deadline is making you overeat
[Photo: Makhmutova Dina/Unsplash]

Healthy eating tip: if you want to make better food choices, tell yourself that your time and resources are plentiful.

A study from the Indian Institute of Management found that people facing dwindling time or resources crave caloric foods–specifically, chocolate cake! This will ring true to everyone who has ever gorged themselves while working on a tight deadline. No personal experience here. None whatsoever.

Researchers stumbled upon this truism in a study that asked participants to do a task while a clock counted up or down. Those with the downward counting clock showed preference for a high-calorie chocolate cake afterward, while those with the upward ticking clock wanted fruit salad.

This is noteworthy because it means that the subtle psychological urgency spurred by a limited resource leads to “compensatory consumption in an unrelated domain,” i.e., eating because of an unrelated low resource (time). The researchers explored further, and found that those with downward clicking clocks took large amounts of candy after the task–but not if they were first asked to recall a time when they had abundant resources.

The researchers hope to see further research into the psychological effects of other finite resources, such as a low battery on a smartphone or low bank balances.

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