Watch cues that cause overeating

Published 9:57 am Friday, October 19, 2012

Many people who are trying to lose weight will tell you one of their biggest pitfalls is overeating.
What many don’t know is that there are actually environmental cues that cause most people to do this. These cues usually cause over eating whether one is hungry or not.
Let’s go over some possible causes of overeating, and some solutions to this problem.
1) Convenience and availability. Keeping snacks in plain sight is the best way to make sure you’ll eat more. An experiment was done in a hospital cafeteria, where the 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 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 arm’s length.
2) “Economy-sized” Everything. Larger container sizes tend to make people over eat 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 ones.
3) 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, this can cause you to over eat. The reason 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 ones, like vegetables, fruits, beans, low-fat yogurt and oatmeal.
4) 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 shorter glasses when compared to tall slender ones.
Remedy: When drinking high calorie beverages, choose tall slender glasses. You’ll actually drink less than you thought you did.
5) 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? Email me at or visit
David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 26 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC- Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse college equestrian team.
He has also been a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency and a teacher for four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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