It doesn't take a scientist to work out that hitting the supermarket when you'rehungry means you'll end up spending way more than usual on the weekly shop.
Of course, the same goes for ordering food in a restaurant or grabbing a takeaway. If you're starving hungry, it's likely you'll end up ordering – and eating – way more than you would than if you were suitably satisfied. So is there a way to lose weight and still tuck into your favourite takeaway?
Well yes actually, and that's exactly what a new study has shown. Experts suggest there's a simple way to cut calories when you're ordering food out, and it's not as difficult as you might think.
Dieting of course requires an element of self-control, but if you're ordering when you're hungry you're bound to go overboard. But experts now suggest that if you order an hour before you plan to eat, you're less likely to overeat. And what's more, you're likely to order much healthier food choices too.
They say their findings could have a huge effect on the nation's obesity crisis and urge restaurants to offer an advance ordering service for customers, particularly those who are concerned about their weight.
Lead author, Dr Eric VanEpps, of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, who conducted the study while he was a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, said: 'Our results show that ordering meals when you're already hungry and ready to eat leads to an overall increase in the number of calories ordered.
'And the results suggest that by ordering meals in advance, the likelihood of making indulgent purchases is drastically reduced.
'The implication is that restaurants and other food providers can generate health benefits for their customers by offering the opportunity to place advance orders.'
The researchers conducted three studies. The first two examined lunch orders placed by 690 employees in a corporate cafeteria, and the third analysed the eating habits of 195 university students during their catered lunch break.
Across all three experiments, the researchers found that higher calorie meals were ordered and consumed when there was a shorter – or no – waiting times between ordering and eating.
The second and third study looked into the effects of ordering food in advance.
The researchers found those who placed their orders in advance, with an average delay of 168 minutes, had an average reduction of 30 calories, compared to those people who ordered closer to lunchtime – with an average delay of 42 minutes between ordering and eating.
The third study found that students who placed their orders in advance ordered foods with significantly fewer calories – an average of 890 calories – compared to those who ordered at lunchtime – an average of 999 calories.
The researchers however failed to note whether the participants had eaten breakfast or not, which could have had a significant impact on the amount the participants ate.
Whilst ordering in advance does seem a simple way to control your calorie intake, it depends on how organised and structured you are with your meal planning. Does anyone really know when they'll be hungry throughout the day? It's something that tends to creep up on us at various points throughout the day! Nevertheless, it's a trick we might try next time we consider ordering a family sized pizza for one.
The findings are published in the Journal of Marketing Research.