The Three Bite Rule – How I Eat Dessert Every Night

three bite rule dessert

Intro to The Three Bite Rule

Whenever I go out for frozen yogurt, I typically order half as much as whoever I’m with, not even filling up half the cup. Not on purpose. It’s just all I need to fulfill my fro-yo fix. I sometimes get looks or a comment along the lines of, “That’s all you’re getting?” And rightfully so. If you’re going to get fro-yo, go all in or go home, right? But the thing is, I enjoy frozen yogurt and dessert on the regular. So how can I order just one tiny serving of fro-yo? Why even go in the first place? Because it actually satisfies me just enough – more than a full cup would.

I have the Three Bite Rule to thank for this.

What is the three bite rule?

Simple – we can enjoy our favorite indulgences to a limit – take three full size, decadent bites – and then call it done.

When I first heard of the three bite rule reading Jill Coleman’s blog, I scoffed. “THREE bites?!” Ha! No way can I do that.

I am all for going out and enjoying frozen yogurt. I have always been one to sample just about every flavor before deciding what to fill up with. But once I started paying closer attention to my satisfaction level, I began to notice something: I enjoyed the sample cups more than the full cup. By the time I had filled it with toppings, paid for it and sat down to spoon it out, 90% of my enjoyment had dissipated!

Why just three bites?

Three bites is just enough to satisfy the craving, but not enough to overdo it.

Scientists have found that eating smaller portions of delicious foods actually leaves us more satisfied with the taste. Clinical psychologist Jean Kristeller confirms that “Our taste buds are chemical sensors that tire quickly… The first few bites of a food taste better than the next few bites. In fact, after a large amount, we may have very little taste experience left at all.” Mindful and intuitive eating approaches are centered around how we can enjoy and savor each bite of our favorite foods – without the guilt.

In short, that first bite is the best. The second confirms it. By the third… you’ve gotten your fix.

This means no food is off limits – we simply enjoy higher-indulgence foods in smaller quantities, which enables us to taste a wider variety of foods.

How can you practice this?

When there’s a tasty treat or indulgence you’d really like to try, eat three bites to full enjoyment, and then stop. Place the fork down and call it quits – or better yet, share it with whoever you’re with.

Dine like a food critic. When you’re at a buffet or potluck party, if there’s something you really like to try, put just enough on your plate for a bite or two. I sometimes do this with a variety of dishes to see which one I like most. When you’re out at a restaurant, share a side with a friend or two or split a decadent dessert with the table. Once three bites are up, place the fork down, box it up or leave it. The ‘ole saying goes, better in the waste than on your waist!

Believe me, it’s certainly a practice – and by that, it takes time and effort, trial and error. I’m still working on it (especially when it comes to carrot cake…), but it’s allowed me to fully cherish every bite – and eat dessert more often while enjoying it even more.

Remember: the choice is always up to you. I am not an R.D. and am in no way advocating disordered eating. This is simply a mindful practice that has helped me (and many of my clients) enjoy our favorite foods without overindulging.

Resources + Recommended Reads:

Daily Mail article

APA: Bite Chew, Savor

JillFit: Intermittent Sampling