The Checkup: How Food Can Curb Overeating

Red potato chips act like edible stop signs, a new study found: They tell the brain when you should lay off.

• The mind tricks we play on ourselves are funny, don’t you think? Sometimes something super simple—the position of a light, say, or where you hang your mirror—can make for big changes in how you act, and you don’t even realize it. Researchers at Cornell ran a study recently in which they dyed potato chips red and strategically staggered them in with a tube of Lays Stackables chips. The subjects, who were undergrad students, had no idea why some chips were red and some weren’t. But it didn’t matter: their brains subconsciously picked up on the cues, translating the red ones as flags to stop eating—edible stop signs, if you will. In the end, the students who were served tubes with red chips consumed 50 percent less than those who just had regular ones. Even more, the subjects who ate the red chips were better able to estimate how many chips they’d actually eaten than those who had the plain ones. The red-chip-eaters also consumed 250 fewer calories. Interesting, right?

• Speaking of subliminal messages, is your kitchen sending any? This neat slide show helps you see how your kitchen’s setup could cause you to eat more than you should and pack on extra pounds you don’t want.

• Earlier this week, I told you about lab-engineered bananas that could pack a better nutritional punch. Now there’s this: A company in Maryland that’s come up with a fake chicken product that, it claims, taste just like the real thing. Too good to be true?