By Corey Springer
Owner of: Apollo Fitness Barbados & “The NarkSide” Fitness Forums.
Written: Saturday 8th August 2009
Summer’s winding down. Looking around I see that the majority of the people who promised themselves that they’d be in shape for summer (or that they’d get in shape during summer), are still fat.
“I wasn’t eating that much man”, I often hear. Those of you who’ve read my article “Cut Liquid Calories… Cut bodyfat.” could probably easily poke holes in that defense.
Most people simply don’t realize how quickly (liquid) calories add up.
Anyway… that topic’s already been covered.
Today, we take a crack at the other areas where people generally slip-up.
Slip-up 1: Inhaling your food.
Due to our hectic lifestyles, we’ve been socialized into the unhealthy habit of lightning-speed eating.
I mean, heck… some of you only get 60 minute lunch breaks. Who has time to chew right?
Unfortunately studies do show that our attempts at “being more productive”, via eating rapidly, tends to result in a higher consumption of calories as compared to people who eat at a leisurely pace.
Eating too quickly circumvents the satiety signal, so one is prone to pile in loads of fattening calories before your brain registers that your stomach is full.
My solution: Find a quiet corner, outside the office/classroom if possible, pop your head phones in… relax, and chew. Dedicate at least 15 minutes of your lunch hour to actually eating and enjoying food.
This brings me to another tip: eat foods that you enjoy. Even in the most restrictive types of diets, there’s sure to be foods that you enjoy. If there are none, then it’s time to change your diet.
Slip-up 2: Eating too slowly.
“Hell Nark, you’re confusing me now. Didn’t you say eating slow was good?!”
Yes, I did.
But, it’s situational.
Speed-eating when you’re alone and pressed for time, can and does result in weight-gain.
The same is also true for eating to slowly… while in groups.
Numerous studies outline the powerful effect that socialization has on calorie intake.
It has been shown that the higher the number of individuals present at a meal, the higher the amount of food consumed, per individual, for that meal.
It doesn’t stop there however. In addition to a higher overall amount of calories consumed, a higher fat intake has also been correlated with group meals.
More food plus more fat?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is heading.
Right around the navel!
My solution: Make judicious appetizer selections. A study done in 2007 showed that a fatty soup ingested prior to the main course induces the feeling of being full… and also slows gastric emptying .
The study found that the feeling of satiety could reduce calorie intake, for that meal, by up to 20 percent .
Another study showed that some fats, namely unsaturated fats, exert a much stronger “anti-face-stuffing” effect.
These fats are converted to a compound called Oleoyl-ethanolamide (OEA) by cells in the upper region of the small intestine. OEA then activates the brain circuit which controls satiety.
“Enough with the science-speak already Nark!!!”
Eating a small low-carb, ‘fatty’ appetizer prior to your main course can prevent over-eating in the social setting.
Ditch the garlic bread, and reach for the asparagus wrapped with prosciutto instead.
Slip-up 3: Eating until you’re full.
“What Nark? Aren’t you supposed to eat until you’re full and then stop?”
This is especially true when this behaviour is coupled with speed-eating… and excessive concomitant liquid-calorie consumption.
Why is that?
Well, by the time you feel ‘full’ you would’ve already piled in far more calories than you need.
My solution: Portion control, portion control, portion control.
As speed eating and other negative eating behaviours circumvent the satiety cue, you really can’t depend on these signals to determine when a meal should end. Instead, I suggest
adhering to a specific number of calories per meal. Calculate, or estimate, how many calories you need per day. Divide this total over the number of meals you tend to have per day. The
figure this generates is your caloric goal per meal. When you’ve reached that goal, then the meal is over. It’s that simple. Numerous 300-500 calorie meal examples can be found online.
Slip-up 4: Eating while distracted.
Food psychologists call the act of unconscious snacking, usually occuring while watching television, “mindless eating”. Here they blame this action on the brain, as opposed to the stomach: Basically people overeat without noticing. The brain goes on auto-pilot and people eat to the pace of what’s going on in front of and/or around them. If it’s a television show that they’re engrossed in, people will snack unconsciously until the show ends.
Studies show that eating in front of the television can cause people to eat up to 40% more calories as compared to eating in an undistracted state.
Consider the calories in small portions of some of your favorite snacks:
- Pringles (1 oz): 160 calories
- Pretzels (1 oz): 107 calories
- Twinkie (1): 150 calories
- Hershey kisses (3): 75 calories
- Oreo cookies (3):160 calories
It’d probably take me 3 minutes to ingest any one of the above-listed snack portions. Multiply that by the number of 3 minute slots which fit into the amount of time you spend in front of the television.
Let me help you put into perspective:
The average length of a movie is 90 minutes.. right?
That’s 30 3-minute slots.
At 160 calories per slot, that’s easily 4800 calories!!!
That’s right… TWICE the average person’s daily requirement …all consumed all in one snacking session.
My solution? Try to get out of the habit of snacking while relaxing. Try relaxing with low-calorie or no-calorie beverages instead. When I’m working at my computer, which is a time I’m prone to snack, I have tea/cocoa sweetened with splenda or stevia at regular intervals. Sometimes I have a diet coke, with a splash of lime and loads of ice. Heck, I’m sipping on one right now.
The take-home message:
The take-home message?
Our people are getting fatter and fatter by the day. Our jobs are less physically demanding. We commute by vehicle everywhere. We barely find time for exercise…and, on top of that, we gorge ourselves while sitting on our asses for hours at a time.
C’mon guys… recognize the behaviours which are hindering your progress.
Don’t let another summer pass you by!
References1. Maruyama, K. et al. The joint impact of self-reported behaviours of eating quickly and eating until full on overweight: results of a cross sectional survey. The British Medical Journal, 2008;337:a2002.
2. de Castro JM (1990) Social facilitation of duration and size but not rate of the spontaneous meal intake of humans. Physiology and Behavior 47, 1129–1135.
3. de Castro JM (1991) Social facilitation of the spontaneous meal size of humans occurs on both weekdays and weekends. Physiology and Behavior 49, 1289–1291.
4. de Castro JM (1994) Family and friends produce greater social facilitation of food intake than other companions. Physiology and Behavior 56, 445–455.
5. de Castro JM (1995) Social facilitation and inhibition of eating. In Not Eating Enough: Strategies to Overcome Underconsumption of Field Rations, pp. 373–392. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences Press.
6. de Castro JM (1997) Inheritance of social influences on eating and drinking in humans. Nutrition Research 17, 631–648.
7. de Castro JM (1997) Socio-cultural determinants of meal size and frequency. British Journal of Nutrition 77, Suppl.1, S39–S55.
8. de Castro JM & de Castro ES (1989) Spontaneous meal patterns in humans: influence of the presence of other people. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 50, 237–247.
9. de Castro JM & Brewer EM (1992) The amount eaten in meals by humans is a power function of the number of people present. Physiology and Behavior 51, 121–125.
10. American Gastroenterological Association (2007, May 23). Fatty Soup As Appetizer Means Eating Less For Dinner. ScienceDaily.
11. University of California – Irvine (2008, October 10). How Fatty Foods Curb Hunger.
12. Jennifer L Temple, April M Giacomelli, Kristine M Kent, James N Roemmich and Leonard H Epstein. Television watching increases motivated responding for food and energy intake in children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 2, 355-361, February 2007
Related Articles by Corey Springer:
“5 things you can do to make your work-outs work”
“You are what you assimilate!” by Corey Springer
“Getting a Grasp on the concept of Dieting” by Corey Springer
“10 Excuses Fat people make & 10 rebuttals” by Corey Springer