What’s the difference between a pet dog and a compulsive eater? The answer is, “Less than the compulsive eater might imagine.” Both are prone to eating past satiety – the dog because it is genetically hard-wired to chow down when food is present, the human being because he pays more attention to his cravings than his appestat.
With the holiday bingeing season just behind us and the New Year with its onerous resolutions still ahead, along comes help for the hapless fridge raider. It is called the HAPIfork, though the intended end-user will find little to smile about in the innovative $99 dieting tool. The HAPIfork, reportsMarketWatch, uses sensors to monitor movement from plate to mouth:
It tracks the number of forkfuls per meal and per minute, and it times the interval between each. The fork lights up and vibrates when the diner eats too fast — that is, if there are fewer than 10 seconds between forkfuls.
The smart fork, which looks like a cross between an ordinary fork and an electric toothbrush, is purported by a company spokesman to “greatly improve your digestion, and you’ll likely start losing weight.” The fork is slightly smaller than a conventional dinner fork, the thinking behind which is that the user will take smaller bites.
This, along with slowing the pace of eating, is one of the keys to weight loss, says registered dietitian Kari L. Kooi. She cites studies that have found that it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to alert the brain it has eaten its fill.
Like training wheels for beginning bikers, the HAPIfork is envisioned as a stepping stone to healthier dietary habits. The expectation is that after a few months, the rapid eater will have become conditioned to eating at a more leisurely pace. At that point, he can pass the gadget on to the next compulsive eater (who also may have been the recipient of this year’s Christmas fruitcake).
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