Health Curiosities

Start Eating and Stop Bingeing

Simple Tactics to Control Overeating

We've all been told at one time or another that the key to losing weight is to consume fewer calories than you expend. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? But the problem that most of us have is figuring out just exactly how to do that.

Millions of Americans start thousands of diets every week. Most of them fail, and of those that are successful, most will gain at least some of the weight back once they eat "normally" again. Obviously the key is to change our eating habits. Again, it sounds so simple
but new habits are difficult to establish and old (bad) habits are even more difficult to break.

There is some help on the horizon. In this two part article, we have some suggestions to help you "ease" into better habits. This first part will involve some behavior and atmosphere changes that will help you to eat less food:

  • Be Blue
    Research shows that the color blue acts as a natural appetite suppressant. We suggest using blue place settings (dishes, placemats or tablecloth and napkins). Doing so may reduce your appetite just enough to make you eat a little more slowly, so that you will more easily recognize when you are full.
  • Avoid the Fire
    The typical colors of fire (red, orange and yellow) are known to stimulate appetite, so we suggest painting and decorating your eating area in shades of beige.
  • Eat Alone
    People tend to eat more when they are with others. On average, eating with one other person will up your intake about 35 percent. Eating with three others will typically increase your intake by 75 percent and when at a table or eight, you may nearly double the amount you eat.
  • Girls, Make a Date
    One contradiction to the last tip is based on a study that showed that women tend to eat less when they are on a date. Sorry guys - you will typically eat a lot more. On hint for either sex, don't make it a candlelight dinner. Dim lighting is much more likely to trigger binge eating.
  • Go Dark
    Although dim light can trigger binge eating, dining while blindfolded will typically cause you to eat 22 percent less food. Because you will savor the food you are eating more, you will not even miss what you didn't have. For an interesting look at eating in the dark, check out this "dining in the dark" segment featured on LTN.
  • Don't Worry, Be Happy
    According to one study, women who were consistently dissatisfied with their marriages were about 3 times more likely, and widows were 6 times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome. A happy marriage can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to overeating.
  • Switch Sides
    Try using your non-dominant hand. You will definitely eat more slowly, which will help you to know when you are getting full, before it's too late.
  • Go in Halvsies
    Before you even take a bite, remove and wrap half of your meal. Common sense says that if you have less there to eat, you will eat less. In one study, participants were offered a portion and a half of a food. On average they ate 43 percent more food and 25 percent more calories overall. This is also good on your budget, because you will get two meals for the price of one.
  • Warm up Your Meals
    People tend to eat more in cooler rooms. This is because temperature is a satiety signal. Have you noticed that many restaurants keep their dining rooms cool?
  • Get Some Shut-Eye
    Your hormones are actually to blame for most eating binges. Ghrelin makes you hungry and leptin is your primary appetite suppressor. Sleep-deprivation leads to lower leptin levels and higher ghrelin levels, which increases your appetite. Make 7 hours your nightly minimum.
  • Listen to Slow Jams
    Listening to mellow music during meals will slow down your eating. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full.
  • Embrace Your Shape
    According to a study at Ohio State University, accepting your body will make you less likely to eat for emotional reasons and more likely to eat healthily.
  • Make Beer your Booze
    Water is best, but if you must indulge, drink beer instead of wine. One study's participants ate more food while drinking wine than while drinking beer.
  • It's Hip to Be Square
    Wedge-shaped foods like food like pizza and pie make it very hard to guess portions, so stick with squares and circles.
  • Fat Can Be Good
    Eating fat-free isn't always best. One study showed that subjects were less hungry after eating full-fat muffins than after eating a fat-free version. They also tended to eat less over the next 24 hours.
  • See No Evil, Smell No Evil
    Just the smell of food can induce the insulin secretion that makes you think you're hungry. Sight activates appetite as well, so try to avoid walking near restaurants, bakeries and other places that will tempt your senses.
  • Take a Pill
    There is research that suggests that your body may increase your appetite so that you will eat more in an attempt to compensate for a lack in nutrients. Add a multivitamin to your daily routine.
  • Make Multiple Mini Meals
    Skipping meals, or waiting too long between meals can trigger sugar cravings. Eating 5 mini-meals (at about 350 calories each) over the course of a day will help to regulate your appetite.
  • Remove Temptation
    When you feel full -- not stuffed -- take the food away (or ask the waiter to). The very fact that food is in front of you will override your feelings of fullness.

Start creating these habits today and watch for the second part of this article where we will give you some real life, real food things to add (yes...add) to your diet to help you lose or just to maintain a healthy weight.

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