If you’re like most people in this country, you could lose a few pounds for either personal appearance or for health concerns. A simple way to accomplish this is to avoid overeating. Overeating is when you eat more food than what your body needs for daily maintenance and growth. The extra food you consume simply has no purpose for your body and therefore gets stored as fat. Overeating is triggered by different signals in different people. These may be the temptation of seeing delicious looking food or even just smelling food.
The first step to conquering overeating is portion sizes. In a study examining recipes from The Joy of Cooking cookbook from the last 75 years, recipes have 63% more calories in them now compared to 75 years ago. About 2/3 of this is because the serving have increased in size, the other third is because the recipes have more energy-dense ingredients such as butter. Next time you cook from a recipe, look at the suggested serving size and compare it to how much you should be having. If it’s more than what you need, adjust the recipe size to make as much as you need or put some away for leftovers right away so you’re not tempted to eat everything.
The size of your plates also makes a difference in how much you eat. Believe it or not, people who eat with larger plates, bowls and glasses consume more food without even realizing it. If you’re the type of person who knows they’re done eating when your plate is clean, you will consistently eat more food. In a famous study by Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University, some participants were given soup bowls that constantly filled with more soup and others normal soup bowls. The bottomless soup bowl participants consumed on average 72% more soup. The surprising result was that these people said they were not full even after consuming well over a normal bowl of soup because their brain did not register how much they have eaten.
- Look at the portion sizes given in recipes and restaurants. If it is too much, set it aside immediately to take home as leftovers. Ask for a to-go box when you order even.
- Start using smaller chinaware. Plates, bowls and even glasses all contribute to overeating. Try using tall, skinny glasses that look like more fluid than short, wide glasses.
- You don’t have to clean your plate. Times have changed since you were a child, and it is perfectly acceptable to leave food on your plate. Just save it for leftovers.
Written by: Andrew R. Richardson, Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension FCS Program, Masters Food & Nutrition Program, Bowling Green State University, School of Family & Consumer Sciences.
Information gathered from:
Brain Wansink. Modifying the food environment: from mindless eating to mindlessly eating better [pdf document]. Retrieved from Con Agra Foods Science Institute at http://www.rippeinfoservices.com/conagra-foods-science-institute/webinars/introduction.htm