We are surrounded by triggers to eat more, from chocolate bars at the petrol station queue with two for one offers to oversized steaks and mounds of fries. At the same time we’re confronted by messages to eat less coming from the health professionals, media and the weight loss industry, so how can we balance those competing interests without feeling like we’re missing out?
Have you been gradually increasing the size of your take away coffee or adding the latest flavours? Fancy coffees are a considerable contributor to calorie overconsumption because we don’t think of drinks as critically as we do food. We probably wouldn’t walk down the street eating a gateaux every day, dripping with cream and ganache, yet some of the larger specialty coffees with cream contain just as much sugar and energy.
Do you find yourself inhaling the salty snacks, standing by the bowl at parties?
Have you ever been offered a chocolate from a box brimming with sparkling options? You feel sure there’ll be another round so you gobble down that chocolate in the hope that nobody else will get in before you and take your next favourite? Yet you find that if there was only one chocolate on offer, the pressure is off, you can savour it and it actually tastes better than when you know there’s more.
Here’s 10 things you can do to change these situations for the better and eat less painlessly:
1) Choose Small
There’s clear evidence that the more food we have in front of us, the more we eat. Buying smaller packages can sometimes be less cost effective per “serve” but what is a “serve”? If your serve becomes bigger as the package becomes bigger, what is the cost in disappointment and efforts to lose that weight?
2) Use Smart Crockery
The bigger the plate or bowl, the more we eat. There’s even evidence that a shorter, squatter glass tricks us into consuming more and so is best kept for water, while a tall, thin glass makes us drink less, which is better saved for sugary beverages. Small, conical bowls make cereals and soups appear more substantial than wide, flat based bowls.
3) Serve Small
The size of the serving bowl at a buffet along with the size of the serving spoon influences the amount of that food that we serve onto our plates and subsequently how much we eat. At home you’re better to serve directly onto plates so you can see the full amount of food at once and portion leftovers and refrigerate at the same time to discourage serving seconds. The chances are that your first decision about how much to eat was the right one and seconds are rarely needed.
4) Pay Attention
By paying attention to what you are eating you can help your body to feel satisfied from your brain rather than just waiting for your stomach to refuse any more. Imagine you’re a food critic, how would you describe this food – what can you see it contains, and what flavours do you recognize. Thinking about the food as you are eating it slows down the process and enables you to feel satisfied on less.
5) Keep Your Distance
Keep foods you’re trying to eat less of out of sight and out of reach. Position yourself away from the snack bowl at parties and you won’t miss them a bit.
6) Suit Yourself
Eat to your own appetite. Don’t let the food outlet make the decision about how much food you need – listen to your appetite and identify the amount of food that matches that rating before you begin eating. Trust that you’ve had enough when you’re done. If you got it wrong, it is never very long before it is time to eat again anyway.
7) Clear Your Environment
Don’t stock up on nibblies just in case your friends drop by, don’t buy up on Easter eggs in advance but stock up on the foods you’re wanting to eat more of.
8) Get Regular
People who lack structure or routine to their eating are more likely to skip meals and overeat later. Find a routine that works for you and get into it. Routine means you can put yourself on autopilot and pay attention to other things without worrying so much about food.
9) Set the Pace
You may not have noticed that the faster your lunch-mate eats, the faster you eat. We unknowingly pace ourselves on the people around us, so be the one to set the pace, and make it slow!
10) Be Firm
Have you ever found yourself out to dinner intending not to have dessert but then as soon as someone else orders, a selection blurts out your mouth too? Stick with your conviction; you’re very unlikely to regret it. Your friend may thank you for saying “No” when the dessert menu comes because they were waiting to see what you did before they made up their mind.
Amanda is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and author of Portion Perfection - a visual weight control plan, which shows people how much to eat for their needs and incorporates actual portion plates and bowls. Amanda also runs a busy nutrition and exercise clinic - Great Ideas in Nutrition, at Coolangatta in Queensland. Join her on facebook at portionperfection for practical tips and ideas or visit the website at www.greatideas.net.au
MyDeal Tip *
Do you find yourself snacking more when you are watching TV? Try setting up a designated area to have your meals and this will enable to focus on what you are eating. We recommend our dining sets which include dining chairs and dining tables!