Unit Bias

So obvious it’s weird

Ever since I was a kid and first introduced to the notion of drinking “a pint of bitter” I’ve noticed something rather strange.

There is no specific or logical reason for drinking bitter (beer) in pints. Or milk for that matter.

Yet we do, don’t we? Though having said that, in most families to glug down an entire pint of milk would be considered somewhat greedy – and to drink 2 pints in one sitting would be considered most strange.

You’d have to be seriously thirsty to drink 4 pints of mik!

Yet with beer, 4, 5, 6 pints is considered quite normal. Excess is considered “one over the eight”!

9 pints?

Would you drink 9 pints of milk? 9 pints of orange squash? 9 pints of coffee?

Large kettle

Aside from needing a large kettle, why don’t we drink coffee by the pint pot? And for the few of us that actually do, why not 4 or 5 pints at a time?

The answer lies in “unit bias”, which in short means we tend to presume that standard servings are somehow the “correct” volume of whatever it may be we’re eating or drinking.

In the Biggly Body Plan I point out how frequent small meals can actually keep your metabolism highly stoked and burning fat much better than going without food all day and then having a large meal. It does depend upon certain factors but it’s a powerful technique to have lots of small portions instead.

The problem some people find with this technique is that they’re used to a plate of food, and plates tend to be full sized things.

It sounds so obvious but here’s a hot tip – use smaller plates

Yep, that’s obvious, right? And it’s so obvious I bet you don’t bother doing it…

New study

The concept of unit bias has been given some official backing by a new study published in Psychological Science, where the researchers showed that for a variety of foods subjects took more and ate more when the size of the scoop or item increased.

Identical circumstances, everything the same yet the subject’s calorie intake shot upwards simply by giving them a larger utensil!

Somehow I suspect if I say to you “Hey, ditch the large bowels, big plates and hefty spoons and stuff” you’ll logically agree it’s a great idea – but not actually do it.

So this article is not so much about unit bias, interesting as it is, but to delve deeper into that very point.

This may be just one example but I want you to stop and think for a bit. Grab yourself pen and paper, or use your Biggly journal, and write down the Top 10 diet or slimming tips you know.

Then I want you to go through them one at a time and honestly ask yourself “Am I actually doing that?”

In my experience out of 10 techniques most people will only follow about 4 or 5.  That’s pretty dismal but realistic. Much of it comes from a literally physical level, for your body will seek to remain the same weight you already are. It doesn’t want to change. As such you’ll either get cravings for some things or an aversion to others (such as exercise!) while your body fights to retain it’s current status.

Do me a favor

So here’s what I want you to do. For ONE WEEK follow those 10 slimming tips, diet techniques, fat-shredding mantras, whatever they may be. One week.

Not for the long term, certainly not for ever, just give me one week of total committment to the top 10 most obvious things you already know you should be doing. Yes, all of them, all 10.

You’ll be amazed at the results.

And watch out for unit bias!