How We Eat Affects Our Weight And Health
Everyone knows that maintaining a healthy diet can have a very positive effect on your life, but most people still have no clue how far these benefits extend. The majority of people around the world generally eat too many calories, and an excessive amount of sugar, salt, cholesterol, saturated fat, and alcohol. Even though they’re aware of their poor eating habits, it’s the taste of this unhealthy food that keeps them running back to it every day.
It can be difficult to stick to eating healthy for various reasons:
• Skipping meals (mostly due to lack of time) and overeating on snacks and fast food afterwards
• The incredibly easy access to snacks and fast foods
• People not knowing how to tell if a product they buy at the supermarket is healthy or not. Often, when you choose to buy a pack of low-fat cookies, they’ll contain other unhealthy ingredients to make up for the low fat content. In order to make them tastier, companies will put more sugar in the cookies, and they will end up having the same number of calories as the ones that contain fat.
• One of the most common reasons why people fail in following a healthy diet is because they don’t understand what it means to eat healthy.
Namely, just because you decide to eat healthy doesn’t mean that you should completely turn your back on comfort foods. In fact, a good diet is all about finding a great balance between eating healthy and unhealthy foods in order to keep both your body and mind satisfied.
This is why fad and commercial diets are useless, and you should instead focus on changing your lifestyle, and making profound dietary habit changes that will last a lifetime.
If you’re not following a healthy lifestyle, you should start immediately. There are numerous scientific studies that show that eating healthy can reduce the risk of serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, several types of cancer, stroke, hypertension, and osteoarthritis.
If you’ve set your mind to begin a healthier way of life and eat better for the first time in your life, stick with it and make gradual changes to your old unhealthy habits and never give up on your goals even if you fail the first few times.
Begin by identifying the root of your struggle with food. For example, are you having trouble with overeating, munching on snacks too much, consume too much sugar, or if you’re in the habit of mindless eating.
What Is Mindless Eating?
Did you ever eat a whole quart or more of ice cream while watching one of your favorite TV shows even though a small scoop would have been enough to satisfy your need for a delicious treat?
When you don’t pay attention to the food you’re eating and do not notice how much food you have consumed, then you have a habit of eating mindlessly.
Mindless eaters don’t pay attention to food as much as they should, which is why it’s often typical for them to eat a piece of cake even when it’s stale and doesn’t really taste that good.
On the other hand, a mindful eater is aware of everything they eat and they use this awareness to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Examples Of Mindless Eating
The best example of mindless eating would be popcorn at the movie theater. Namely, the taste of the popcorn (according to an experiment that is mentioned in the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, written by food psychologist Brian Wansink) doesn’t even matter to people who are in the theater. Even if it’s stale, they will eat it because they aren’t paying attention to the food; they’re paying attention to the movie.
There is no attention paid to the portion being consumed or the fact that a half a cup of popcorn is all that is really needed for a snack, and the movie portion is more like 4 cups. As long as the movie projectors are still running, we will be munching on the snack.
Since all of your attention will be directed towards the movie, you will not notice how much of it or how fast you’re eating or even realize that you’ve been full for some time.
The aforementioned food psychologist, Brian Wansink, notes that there is a huge difference between eating until you’re full and eating until the plate is empty. The latter means that you’re probably eating mindlessly.
Another example is eating in front of the television where you hardly pay attention to the food, what you are eating, or how much of it you ate.
Eating while driving is likely to cause mindless eating, since you cannot really devote attention to the food because it’s devoted to the road.
Mindless eating is a habit that people develop early on in their lives. For example, many kids fall into the trap of eating this way due to the size of the bowl from which they eat their cereal. Namely, if you give a kid a 16-ounce cereal bowl, they will pour much more cereal in it than if you gave the same kid an 8-ounce bowl.
What Happens During Mindless Eating
Although people generally have no clue about a process known as the mindless margin, health experts are well aware of its occurrence. If you’ve ever noticed that you’ve been gaining weight despite not changing your exercise or eating patterns, then you’re probably experiencing the effects of the mindless margin.
So, what is the mindless margin exactly?
It’s a calorie range where we are totally unaware of the small changes we make to our eating habits.
The mindless margin notes that a difference of up to 100 calories will go unnoticed, which would make you gain/lose weight gradually.
While eating mindlessly, it is impossible to realize when hunger has been satisfied. That’s because you shouldn’t really ask yourself whether you’re full or not; rather, you should determine whether you’re still hungry.
The next time you’re eating a meal make sure to pause for a few seconds after a few bites in order to determine whether you’re still hungry. If you aren’t hungry, then you should stop eating. Eating to satisfaction and not to feeling stuffed is a key habit change towards the healthy.
Our Super Sized World
People generally eat much more than they should, which is exactly why obesity rates in the United States are at epidemic levels, with 1/3 of adults being obese, and the picture is not much better in other parts of the world.
We are a “super size” world, with larger Fries, extra large tubs of sodas and restaurant portions that are large enough to make 4 or 5 sensible meals.
Overeating can lead to numerous health risks, so you need to pay attention to how you’re eating. In fact, studies mentioned in the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, concluded that people can eat 20% less than what they are used to without ever noticing any difference.
That 20% is the main difference between feeling like you’re not hungry anymore and feeling like you’re full.
When it comes to food perception, the portion size doesn’t matter as much as we think. In fact, an experiment published in a diet book called the Volumetrics Eating Plan, written by Dr. Barbara Rolls, found that people could eat as much as 50% less food than they initially set out to consume and still feel full. To prove this, Barbara decided to put a quarter-pound hamburger right next to a half-pound one in front of certain people.
So what happened?
After the people got instructions to eat only the quarter-pound one, they were still hungry after eating it, having already noticed how smaller it is than the half-pound hamburger. However, when she decided to add more onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, as well as not squish the quarter-pound burger down in order to make it look bigger, she was surprised to find out that people were not hungry after eating it.
This shocking discovery made her realize that our eyes and how we see the food we eat has a significant influence on our eating habits.
You have to become aware that neither your stomach nor memory will help you in determining just how much you actually eat.
When you’re going out to eat with a couple of friends and you order some French fries; there is no way too remember how many fries you ate after finishing the plate because you will be distracted by conversation.
This is why you need to plan ahead and understand how to become a mindful eater instead.
You can read part 2 of this article HERE