Archive for the tag - overeating

How to Manage Emotional Eating.

Emotional eaters reach for food not when they’re hungry, but rather in reaction to what they’re feeling. Emotional eating may be triggered by sadness, anger, anxiousness or any other feeling – and food is used as the pacifier or cooping mechanism.

When we talk about reducing mindless snacking and controlling the amount of food we eat, it’s common to hear tips about hiding unhealthy foods or storing them outside of reach. And while these tips are helpful, they’re treating the symptoms and not the actual problem.

A new study by UCSF researchers, published online in the Journal of Obesity, looks at the relationship between mindful eating, stress reduction techniques and overeating. While the study was conducted only with women, I’m sure that men can learn from the findings as well.

The participants were divided into to groups. The first group was the control. The second group underwent a series of classes to help the women better manage their stress and understand their eating habits. The women learned meditation techniques and how to be more aware of their eating by recognizing bodily sensations like hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction.

Not only did the second group of women who received the training decrease their stress (researchers were able to measure drops in the stress hormone cortisol), but they also lost the most weight.

The lead researcher reported:

In this study we were trying to cultivate people’s ability to pay attention to their sensations of hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction as a guide for limiting how much they eat. We tried to reduce eating in response to emotions or external cues that typically drive overeating behavior.

She went on to note that additional research is still needed.

But this study does point to the importance of managing the triggers that lead to overeating – rather than just trying to reduce the eating itself. It’s certainly food for thought.

Portion Sizes (And Waistlines) Increasing: What You Can Do About It.

Portions are on the rise - but so are obesity rates.

Just because it’s in front of you, it doesn’t mean you need to eat it. Though it may be a revolutionary concept to many of us, this guiding principle would do wonders to improve our health and decrease out waistline.

There is a difference between portions and servings. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat while a serving is the amount of food recommended by the USDA or FDA. A serving of pasta is one half cup, for example, but many of us eat much, much more. At a restaurant, it’s common to get four times that amount.

Over the years, portions have increased in size. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) demonstrated the increase by showing popular foods now compared to just 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, a typical portion of movie theater popcorn had 270 calories; today, it’s 630. Bagels have more than doubled from 140 to 350 calories. And while the burgers of yesteryear’s contained 333 calories, today’s average out at 590.

Portions aren’t the only thing on the rise – so are our obesity rates. While 47% of Americans were overweight in the 1970s, today it’s two out of three. And the obesity rate has doubled to 30% of the population.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that larger portions have been linked to increased consumption and overeating. One study looked at macaroni and cheese portions and found that participants consumed 30% more calories when offered the largest portion compared to the smallest. Despite the increased calories, participants reported similar feelings of fullness – and shockingly, only 45% of participants noticed the changes in portion sizes between the different dishes. Similar studies have been repeated with different foods – from sandwiches to soup to chips and pasta – with the same results. When we’re served more food, we tend to eat more.

So what is a concerned eater to do?

A little awareness can go a long way. Now that we’re aware of the influence or portions on our intake, we can do something about it. And to make things easier, NHLBI has created a handy serving size wallet card that you can print out and take with you. I recommend putting one on your fridge, too. When eating out, ask the waiter to bag up half the meal before it even comes to the table. When eating in, serve reasonable portions in plates (rather than putting the dishes on the table). And remember: Just because it’s in front of you, it doesn’t mean you need to eat it.

Have you noticed an increase in portion size over the years? And how do you practice portion control in your life? Let me know in the comments below.