Posts Tagged ‘overeating’

Try a small bowl if you have to have ice cream.

Are you immune to overeating? Does the bowl size you eat out of influence how much you eat?
Many of us think we have it figured out but according to a recent article in “Nutrition Action Healthletter” with Brian Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating-Why We Eat More Than We Think, we need help. He found that even informed intelligent people who had been trained with illustrations and videotapes ate more when offered food in a large bowl versus a smaller bowl. The problem seems to be that once they have learned about it, we don’t think it will influence us. However, when it comes to eating we don’t have a good track record. He found the smarter people are the more they can be fooled, because they are overconfident.

Many people find a rationale to eat more. We say “I will start dieting tomorrow.” “It’s Friday or a day to celebrate.” “I had a bad day.” We tend to think of ways to make the day unique, so we can eat what and how much we want rather than how we really should be eating.

We also tend to eat more when the food is labeled “low-fat,” although the calorie amount may be similar to the regular version of the food. The people in the study estimated that a low-fat version of a snack had 40% less calories. Whereas, it actually only had 11% fewer calories and most of the people ate more of the snack. We tend to underestimate calories. Many people think that if the food is “organic,” it has to have fewer calories. He calls this the “halo” effect. If we think the food is good for us we will estimate the calories lower and eat more of it.

So what can help us? Mr. Wansink recommends using a small plate and bowl, smaller serving spoons, put the healthy food front and center where it is the first thing you see, and package food in small containers or individual servings, especially if you buy in bulk. For many people the 100 calorie packs help them with self-control. What tips do you have that help you avoid overeating?

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It’s that time of year again for holiday office luncheons, parties, and family gatherings filled with festivities and food everywhere.  From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the holiday season is filled with treats that tempt even the most disciplined of individuals.  But is holiday weight gain inevitable?  Not if you follow some simple steps to help you keep off those extra holiday pounds.  Here are some tips to help you survive the season without sacrificing the fun and festivities:

  1.  Never skip a meal before a party or celebration.  This will prevent you from losing control and overeating at the party.  Skipping meals creates a famine-feast cycle.  Try to avoid standing near the food, eat from a plate, and drink a large glass of water before you eat.
  2. Focus on quality instead of quantity.  Sample one or two foods that you really like.  Keep your portions small and enjoy these special foods.
  3. Plan physical activity as a holiday celebration.  Many holiday celebrations involve the outdoors – ice skating, skiing, and sledding.  Take a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the lighting displays and decorations.
  4. Practice healthy cooking techniques. Modify recipes by reducing the amount of sugar or fat in baked products.
  5. Give the gift of health.  Rather than making candies and cookies, why not give a gift of homemade wheat bread, or a basket of fresh fruit and nuts?
  6. Watch what drinks you consume.  Limit alcoholic drinks to one or two servings, and avoid high-fat eggnog.
  7. Get enough sleep every night.  Lack of sleep can affect your metabolism by influencing your hunger and weight gain.
  8. Concentrate on socializing.  This will take your mind off of food and focus your attention on interacting with others.
  9. Prioritize your schedule.  Plan weekly family activities and celebrations.  Don’t forget to plan time for yourself.
  10. Just say “no” politely.  If you don’t feel you can eat another bite, politely say so!

Remember, this is the season to celebrate with family and friends.  Planning ahead is an important strategy to help you maintain weight or prevent weight gain over the holidays.  Celebrate, but don’t overdo it!

Author:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences & the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Ohio State University Extension.

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