Hours after eating a big meal, you'll feel more full than you would have had you eaten a small meal, right? Not necessarily, according to a new study. While how much you eat determines how full you feel right away, hours later it's actually the memory of that meal that matters most, NPR reports. The study found that when subjects were shown a picture of an entire bowl of soup, then ate some soup (researchers used a system that prevented the subjects from knowing how much they were eating), they felt less hungry two to three hours later than subjects who were shown a picture of just a cup of soup—even if those subjects actually ate more soup.
The findings jibe with previous studies, which have shown that people who eat while distracted—say, while reading this story on your computer—are more likely to be hungry later. Similarly, amnesiacs who can't remember what they've eaten "tend to feel just bloated, but they don't necessarily feel full," says the lead researcher from the recent study. It all may have to do with the signals that go on inside your body when you eat, he says. Though the information doesn't yet have any big implications for weight loss, he adds, one conclusion is that "anything that we can do to promote the memory of a recent meal is a good thing."