Monday, June 16, 2008

How to Break the Mindless Eating Trap

It's not just what you eat that's making you fat, it's also how you eat.

Eating too much and exercising too little will make you fat, but other things influence weight gain, too. How fast you eat, what else you're doing while you eat and even the size of your plate and glass can have a powerful influence on how much food you swallow.

How can you break the mindless eating trap? Slow down and pay attention, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Eating your food more slowly not only helps you savor it, but also helps you to eat less. At the University of Rhode Island, researchers invited 30 women to have dinner in their laboratory where they were served a tasty pasta dish. The ladies were told to eat quickly, and they finished, on average, in nine minutes. In a second test, the same women were served the same dish but told to slow down and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times. They were told to stop eating when they felt full. It took them about a half-hour to finish the meal. The results? When the women ate slowly, they consumed 67 fewer calories than when they wolfed down their food.

What does that mean? If you were to eliminate 67 calories at dinner every night--and made no other changes to your lifestyle--you would lose seven pounds in a year.

Meanwhile, Brian Wansink, author of the book "Mindless Eating" and director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, N.Y., insists it is external factors that make us eat too much. He told the Wall Street Journal that the average person makes about 200 food decisions every day, but puts real thought into only about 10 percent of them.

Seven factors that encourage mindless eating:

  • Distractions while we eat, such as watching TV.
  • Location of the food on the table.
  • Size of the plate or container.
  • You'll eat more if you like what you're drinking.
  • Not paying attention to the extras, such as bread.
  • Too much variety.
  • Dining with friends.
Seven tricks to break the mindless eating trap:
  • Try to be the last person to start eating.
  • Decide how much to eat before sitting down.
  • Use smaller dishes so portions look larger.
  • Don't eat in front of the TV or in the car.
  • Eat chips or sweets only on the days you exercise.
  • Cover half your plate with vegetables or salad.
  • Leave serving bowls in the kitchen and not on the table.
--From the Editors at Netscape