Today’s trash may actually help you resist temptations.
Research suggests candy wrappers can help you cut down on intake.
Halloween (and the temptations that come along with it!) isn’t the only time of year that puts candy right at our fingertips. Year round, candy is an omnipresent treat, and because its a socially acceptable vice, it’s one that can all too easy be overindulged in. Fortunately, research illuminates a ways in which we can resist temptations. A 2013 study published in the journal Appetite analyzed the effect that effort has on consumption, and found that factors as seemingly inconsequential as having to unwrap a food product or grab it with sugar tongs is enough to significantly reduce consumption. As it turns out, when it comes to having self control around the heaps of Halloween candy late October brings, the candy wrappers themselves have more of an impact than you’d think.
In the study, 60 female students in their mid-twenties were presented with a bowl of twenty Mangini Choco Cereals candies—some of which were wrapped, and some of which were not. Participants could help themselves for five minutes. For part of the experiment, they were told to keep all discarded wrappers on the table, and for part of it they were told to throw the wrappers out.
It may come as no surprise that when the candies were wrapped and the students had threw the wrappers out, they consumed fewer than they did when the candies were wrapped. And when they were told to keep the wrappers on the table, they consumed even fewer.
Participants also consumed fewer candies, and thus fewer calories, when they had to use sugar tongs to take unwrapped candies, rather than their fingers. This suggests that little obstacles you can put in place to make getting that candy in your mouth does cut down on intake. No tongs in sight? You can use a mental obstacle—think about all of the people who have already stuck their grubby, unwashed hands into that bowl of M&Ms or candy corn to shove handful after handful into their mouths. That handful of sweets sounds a little bit less appealing now, huh?
All in all, in the various situations tested, people consumed almost 30% less candies when effort (unwrapping candies or using tongs) was involved! 30% not sound like so much? Take Peanut M&Ms and Milky Way Minis (not Fun Size, the smaller ones). You have a little less than 50g of each, the M&Ms are unwrapped, and poured in a bowl, and the Milky Way Minis are wrapped in a bowl. Because of this, you eat that serving of M&Ms—all 250 calories worth. When it comes to the Milky Way Minis, though, unwrapping the chocolates is effort and your consumption is cut down, so instead of eating 190 calories worth in 5 candies (1 serving), you only eat 4 candies, which saves you almost 40 calories. Maybe you skipped the 4th candy too, that amounts to almost 80 calories left. Without even thinking about it, you took in 100 calories less having the painstakingly difficult to open Milky Way Minis, than with the all-too-easy to eat Peanut M&Ms.
If you’re going to have candy on Halloween (or ever), look for those that are wrapped, rather than grazing from the M&M bowl, decide on the exact number of candies you’re going to have, and be mindful while enjoying them. Certain candies, like hard candies and lollipops, take longer to enjoy—so you’ll be less tempted to have more.