Just Noticeable Difference

Remember last week we learned humans experience life by changes? The Weber-Fechner Law demonstrates a measurable change humans actually pick up on!

In the field of psychophysics there is a law called the Weber-Fechner Law. This picture visually describes the law. In the boxes on the left humans can visually detect the 10 extra dots because there are fewer dots to sort through.

File:Weber-Fechner law demo - dots.png

Weber-Fechner Law in Wikipedia

In the left hand boxes we notice when there is more. In the right hand boxes we do not notice when there is more. The Weber-Fechner Law calls this the just noticeable difference or JND where the human brain is able to make the distinction between more or less.

I want you to do an experiment with what you dish up onto your plate this week. I want you to try using this JND to your advantage and support what your want to do (eat less!) when you are feeling tired, angry, or stressed.

We need to retrain our eyes to “see the extra 10 dots” indicating we have put too much on our plate!

First, add the food to your plate until you notice that your brain says “Stop, that’s enough!” Observe if your plate is not so full (few dots) like the left hand pictures above or full (lots of dots) like the right hand pictures above.

Then, as you eat your meal notice the space on the plate growing as your stomach takes in the food. Be aware of when your +2 satisfied feeling arrives and notice what is left on your plate. If you have food left on your plate then you can decide at the next meal to dish up less.

But, if you have no food left on your plate and you are past your +2 satisfied feeling and on to your full feeling you can decide at the next meal to dish up less or leave 2-3 bites behind.

In case you have no food on your plate and you have not reached +2 then dish up more food and eat until you reach +2 satisfied.

In any of these scenarios you will become more aware of the amount of food you are overeating. If you regularly PRACTICE this at each meal your eyes and stomach will start to work together to “see” and “feel” when you are overeating the “10 more dots”.

Here are some other strategies to help your eyes “see” the JND:

  • Keep space between different foods, no piling on!
  • Use smaller lunch sized plates.
  • Use light colored plates that contrast with the food.
  • Avoid mindless multi-tasking while eating; focus on nourishing your body.
  • Eat all meals on a plate while sitting at the table.
  • Eating in the car is always a bad idea because it is usually mindless overeating!
  • Store uneaten food either in the fridge or garbage, not in your  body!
  • No tasting or snacking while making your meal – this mindless eating will easily store 100-500 extra calories a day in your fat cells!
  • Proportion meals ahead of time.

Understanding the JND of our own meal portions will enable us to “see” what is the correct amount of food for our own bodies. We can use the JND strategy at buffets, parties, and when all those goodies show up in the lounge at work.

Keep in mind the JND will change as you lose weight. As you weigh less you will naturally need to eat less to continue losing weight. Eventually your JND will help you maintain your healthy weight.

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