Trivia 058: Are you full yet?

Well, I am almost all caught up on the trivia I must dispense. This one tonight, and another tomorrow, and I’ll be all done. Just in time for the following week’s post. It never ends. At this point, hopefully you’re not getting too full of trivia, and you can still gorge yourself on this Viking of knowledge (callback to the last post, heyo). This post also has to do with buffets, though what happens at the end of your consumption of vast amounts of food.

It’s no secret that I enjoy cooking. And while I do enjoy eating a steak, or some fried chicken, sometimes you just need vegetables. And one of my favorite recipes is Spicy Peanut Butter Soup, by You Suck At Cooking (highly recommend his YouTube channel). It’s a great vegetable soup, with some peanut butter and spicy chili sauce thrown in to amp up the flavor. However, I often run into a problem when eating this soup. After finishing a bowl (or two) of it, I sometimes feel even hungrier than when I started. Although I did eat a good amount of food, I still craved more.

Susanna Holt, from the University of Sydney published a paper in 1995 exploring this. Realizing that foods with the same number of calories don’t always result in the same feeling of fullness, she and her team (including someone who worked for Kellogg’s) set out to create a satiety index. They gathered 41 subjects and 43 different foods. The foods chosen included fruit, cookies, snacks, cheese, meats, breads and pasta, and several kinds of cereals (all made by Kellogg’s. Huh). Over the course of several weeks, the subjects would (after a 10 hour overnight fast) eat a 1000kJ sample of a food, then over the course of two hours answer questions about how full they were feeling. (I am generalizing here, but if you want the full details you can read the paper).

Based on these results, each food was given a score. White bread was used as the standard,so it received an arbitrary score of 100. Foods which were more satiating received higher scores, while foods which tended to leave people hungry received lower scores. Typically carbohydrates scored quite highly, with boiled potatoes topping the chart with a score of 323. Meanwhile, snacks and junk food tended to score quite low.

Looking into information like this can help you plan meals, especially if you are on a diet. By aiming for foods that provide high satiation, you can eat less, but still feel full.

Perhaps most surprisingly, though, is that apart from Holt’s paper on the subject, there is precious little research that I could find. Pretty much every article on the subject refers back to this paper, many just taking it as gospel. Unfortunately for me, her paper did not cover broccoli, carrots, or onion, the three primary ingredients in my soup. So, if anyone reading this is an aspiring food scientist, perhaps this is an area which deserves attention. And you know, people tend to pay lots of money for fancy new diet plans. Food for thought.

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