Weight Loss Experiment: Diminishing Marginal Utility + Some Discipline At Lunch

Thushan Jayaratne
Mar 2 · 3 min read

If you are like me, lunch on weekdays at work is more a chore than a break, and I usually end up having mine at my desk.

I realised that, I usually finish my lunch in about 5–8 mins, which is quite quick considering that I have Sri Lankan Rice & Curry with at least 3–4 veggie curries. I know that my doctor asked me to eat slow, as apparently, eating fast is one of the main reasons to swallow air which causes bloating in the stomach after a meal. Each mouth is taken in quick succession, usually within 25–30 seconds apart.

I knew that this was not good so I wanted to try something new today. I got my phone and set the time for 1 Minute. I took a mouth and started the timer. The idea was to have one mouth per minute. The first few mouths seemed like eons apart and I wanted to take the next mouth within few seconds. But I somehow fought the temptation and kept looking at the counter and making sure that I only took mouth when the Minute was up.

Diminishing Marginal Utility (DMU): the amount of satisfaction derived from every additional unit Decreases as the consumption of that particular unit increases over a given period of time.

After about 5 ‘Mouth-minutes’, this started getting easier and waiting for the minute was not big deal. I also found myself chewing the food more than usual as I knew that I had to wait for sometime until the next mouth. After about 11 Mouth-minutes something amazing happened. I did not want to eat anymore and I felt full. The break between the mouths started becoming 1 1/2 minutes and eventually 2 minutes and then I just stopped eating cos I just felt really full. I can safely say, that there was about 25% of my food remaining in the box when I stopped eating and that is after forcing my self another 2 mouths as well.

So what happened here;
1. I was giving my brain more time to figure out that it was full.
2. The time I allowed between the mouths gave time for ‘diminishing marginal utility’ to take effect i.e each new mouth that I took, was giving me less and less satisfaction per mouth.
3. Given that I sit at a desk for most of the day and do not exert much physical energy, the body and brain had time to workout just how much I needed to eat at this time, depending on how much energy I was using. When I eat fast, there is not time for this to happen and I am left with a bloated, heavy and uncomfortable feeling.
4. The initial stimulation of the taste buds and the corresponding feeling of satisfaction is what makes us want to keep on eating. And even when we do eat fast, the DMU effect happens and we do get fed-up of eating what we were eating at some point. But again, since there is no time for this processing to be done, we have eaten a lot more than we should have eaten, what our body needed and if we ate much more slowly and purposefully.

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