Watch out for dangerous overeating cues

Published 12:32 pm Monday, January 31, 2011

Most people who are trying to lose weight will tell you that one of their biggest pitfalls is they “over eat.”

What many don’t know is that there are environmental “cues” that cause most people to over eat. These cues usually cause over eating whether one is hungry or not.

Let’s go over some of these causes of over eating, and some solutions to these problems.

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Convenience and availability.

Keeping snacks in plain sight is the best way to make sure you’ll eat more of them. An experiment was done in a hospital cafeteria, where a lid was kept on an ice cream cooler. Only 3 percent of obese participants and 5 percent of normal-weight ones chose ice cream. Conversely, when the lid was removed to allow those participants to see the ice cream, 17 percent of obese people and 16 percent of normal-weight people selected it.

Remedy: Hide tempting, unhealthy snacks, and keep healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables handy and at arms length.

Economy-sized everything.

Larger container sizes tend to make people overeat because it’s harder for them to monitor the amount of food eaten.

Remedy: Buy smaller packages. If you buy larger containers to save money, repackage the product into smaller containers.

Too many choices.

On the one hand eating a wide variety of foods is beneficial, because it allows you to get all the nutrients needed for optimal health. On the other hand, however, it can cause you to over eat. The reason for this is we tend to get bored with familiar tastes. This keeps us from over eating, but with a variety of tastes, we tend to keep eating even when our hunger is satisfied. Remedy: Go ahead and eat a wide variety of foods…just make sure those foods are healthy, like vegetables, fruits, beans, low-fat yogurt, and oatmeal. Optical illusions.

Most people perceive tall slender glasses as holding more than short fat ones of the same size. In one study people drank 20 percent more when beverages were served to them in these shorter glasses when compared to the tall slender ones.

Remedy: When drinking high calorie beverages, choose tall slender glasses. You’ll actually drink less than you thought you did.

Out-of-control portions.

It’s just a fact. We eat more when served more. In one study, restaurants were given different sized portions of baked ziti to serve. When patrons were served an additional 52 percent, they ate an additional 42 percent. Portion sizes can even overcome tastes.

Remedy: If you really want to load up on your portions, fine. Just make sure you’re loading up on foods like salads, broth based soups, high fiber-foods and fruits.

Fitness or nutrition question? E-mail Crocker at Crocker of Landrum has served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A, strength coach, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team and lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency.