Can Mindless Eating Affect Weight Loss?

April 22, 2013 By: Guest 5 Comments

By: Maggie Pinque – A guest blogger for Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts

Slim By DesignIt’s not a huge mystery why so many of us gain weight and have trouble with weight loss. It usually isn’t because we ate too much broccoli. Nah. It could very well have something to do with portion size though, and maybe chocolate. And these are just a few reasons why we search out weight loss camps.

There is an industry newsletter, Nutrition Action, which we subscribe to. Amazingly, it is not dull and it is jam packed with terrific articles. The article that REALLY caught my attention in the April 2013 edition is called, “Fooled by Food” by Brian Wansink. It’s a question and answer article relating to portion size, the types of food we are instinctively drawn to, food on your desk at work or at the dinner table and a myriad of other examples.

Did you know our brains prefer tall to wide. We are unintentionally tricked into thinking that if something is tall, it contains more. So, if I have an eight ounce glass of water in a short, wide glass versus the same exact amount of water in a tall, thin glass, my brain believes I am having more in the tall glass.

When I plate my food, if I use a standard dinner plate versus a salad plate, the same phenomenon happens. In addition, if I put the food on the table, I am more likely to eat more than if I left the food in the kitchen after I served it.

I began a weight loss and fitness journey in January 2012 working with a nutritionist and a fitness trainer. It was most certainly not my first attempt at such an endeavor. As a yoyo dieter I have a few tools in my arsenal, such as the Weight Watchers serving utensils that are a half cup and a full cup serving size and a mandatory food scale. They have made sporadic appearances throughout the years, but now I was all in. I “know” the tricks for guessing portion sizes while out and about. But, I confess; I will give myself an extra teensy bit if I can.

I began to really pay attention to what I was eating, how much of it, and most importantly, why I was eating it. This worked extremely well for months and months. In November, after hurricane Sandy, I found myself off the wagon. Wansick writes about the stress students are under in college and during the holidays.

“We usually assume that people gain weight over the holidays because there is so much food available, so many parties, so many varieties, and all your favorite foods are out. But I’m, increasingly convinced that some of the weight gain is due to the stress of having family visit, having to buy presents, having to finish up projects.
So, we should all be aware that we may be coming under the influence of stress eating, not just having a jolly old holiday time.”

Eureka! An answer to why I was behaving the way I did…which kept up until literally this past Monday. Stress…it makes us crazy in so many ways.

So, how do I make this all stop? Weigh and measure my food. Put cut up veggies in the line of sight in the fridge. Put fruit front and center on counters and the fridge. If I am buying in bulk, portion it out and then put whatever I am not eating out of sight – like in the basement. Use smaller plates. Create ambiance, dimming the lights and listening to soft music actually makes you eat slower and less. “…french fries taste great when they’re hot, but not so great when they’re cold.” You will be satisfied with what you ate because it tasted so much better when it was hot. Low-fat does not mean, “eat more.” Going for a walk after dinner is not an invitation to have an indulgent dessert.

What are we eating? Why are we eating it? Are we really hungry? Being mindful of all of this is probably the single most important hurdle we all have to clear.

For more information you can read Brain Wansink’s book, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. Seriously though, you can only be mindless if you are being mindful. And if you feel like you need a push in the right direction, Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts is the right weight loss camp for you. We focus on helping you recognize underlying issues of overeating and how to make changes to help you lose weight and keep the weight off.

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