Source: Web exclusive, December 2011
‘Our eyes can often be larger than our stomachs,’ says registered dietitian Katie McCulloch of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting in Calgary. ‘We often eat past the point of fullness due to reasons such as taste, enjoyment, socializing, environmental food temptations (smell and sight of food) or for emotional reasons.’ So how can you tune into your hunger cues and avoid eating decisions you’ll regret later? Here are five tricks to keep in your arsenal.
1. Slow down
In a busy time of year, it’s all too easy to rush through meals as we race to the next to-do on our list’but it can take up to 20 minutes for our brains to figure out that our stomachs are full, says McCulloch, meaning it’s easy to go past that point without realizing. ‘Put your utensil down between bites, breathe, have a conversation and be aware of eating slowly and enjoying every bite,’ she suggests.
2. Be mindful
‘Take time and pay attention to what you are eating,’ says registered dietitian Jyotika Desai, nutrition specialist at Nestlé Canada. ‘Take smaller bites, chew slowly and enjoy the taste, texture, and aroma of the food on your plate.’ Be mindful of how your body feels when you’re eating, too, and learn to listen to the fullness signals your stomach may be sending you. ‘Start experimenting and paying attention to what comfortable fullness feels like to you,’ McCulloch recommends, ‘and aim to stop at that place after a meal or snack.’
3. Serve food in the kitchen
It may be convenient to put serving dishes on the dining-room table for everyone to fill their plates from, but it’s hard to resist one more bite of food that’s in front of you, even when you know you don’t really want any more. ‘Avoid putting food platters on the dinner table, as research shows this increases the amount of food you and your guests consume,’ says McCulloch. ‘You need at least three steps of distance between the table and the serving platters.’
4. Don’t get too hungry
It might seem like a smart idea to ‘save’ calories for the big event, but it’s an idea that can backfire. ‘The key is to eat before you are famished,’ says Desai. ‘Having frequent small snacks or meals every two to four hours can help prevent you from overeating.’ McCulloch agrees: ‘Avoid going to parties and events hungry‘you will eat more,’ she says. ‘Make a plan and have a healthy snack before you go.’
5. Watch your drink intake
Not only is alcohol high in empty calories’especially those chocolate-mint margaritas your uncle makes only for the holidays’but having too much to drink can encourage you to eat more, too. ‘Alcohol decreases our ability to continue making healthier food choices,’ says McCulloch. ‘Drink sensibly!’