You Should Probably Serve That Steak in Little Pieces

Studies show eaters feel more satiated after eating multiple smaller portions

Here's an easy diet trick: Cut up your food into smaller portions before serving. Sure, the plating isn't going to be as perfect, but new studies suggest that multiple, but smaller, portions may trick your mind into thinking you're eating more than you are.

Researchers led by Devina Wadhera at Arizona State University first tested rats, and then humans, to see how smaller food pieces affected appetites. Their first experiment trained rats in a maze, leading them either to 30 pellets (10 milligrams each) of food, or one large 300-milligram pellet. After the rats memorized the directions, their preference in the maze was recorded. The preference? Thirty 10-milligram pellets.

As for the human studies, Wadhera and company gave 301 college students an equal amount of bagels and cream cheese. The bagels were either cut into quarters, or served whole. Afterward, the students were given a "test meal," or lunch, and the amount consumed was recorded.

Of the subjects who ate quartered bagels, their "mean energy intake" at lunch was just under the score 175. Subjects who ate an entire bagel had about a 240 score, meaning they ate more than 80 points more.

"Perhaps, cutting up foods into multiple, bite-sized pieces may perceptually look more and therefore elicit greater satiation than a single-piece, food portion," Wadhera wrote in a presentation. "Future portion size studies should consider the effects of a multiple-piece food portion on food intake." So that steak you were planning on grilling whole? Perhaps consider fajitas.

Jessica Chou is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @jesschou.