Changing the way we think about our meals can have a huge impact on our diet and weight. This is part of a recent, alternative approach to eating, called mindful eating.
This includes avoiding distracted, hurried eating and shifting to a more attentive, slower way of eating. This involves several techniques that help one be fully aware of what is happening during the moment of eating - focusing on the food itself (smells, flavor, textures, colors) but also how you feel (hunger to fullness cues). Aside from preventing distracted, hurried, excessive eating, mindful eating may help prevent another phenomenon recently noticed in some eaters.
A small study presented at an annual conference of the British Psychological Society found that how filling you think a meal will be can affect how much you eat later. So, instead of relying on hunger and satiety cues to determine how much to eat at a meal, many rely on their memory of previous meals to determine how much they will eat.
Twenty six people were given omelets containing three eggs. They were told, however, that they received either 2-egg or 4-egg omelets.
When they ate what they thought was a smaller 2-egg omelet, they reported being much hungrier after two hours, ate a greater quantity of pasta at lunch, and ate significantly more calories throughout the day than when they thought they ate a larger 4-egg omelet.
Conversely, when study participants thought they had eaten a larger 4-egg omelet for breakfast, their calorie intake throughout the day was lower.
The Moral of the Study
When do you put down the fork? Instead of letting habit of package size determine how much you will eat at your next meal, use physical fullness cues.
Stop and rate your hunger before you eat and then your fullness after you eat. Create a hunger scale ranging from 0 to 10 (0 being the most hungry and 10 being the least hungry). Then think, what would a 0 feel like physically when you're extremely hungry? Perhaps you'd feel headaches, irritation, shakiness, or fatigue. What would a 10 feel like when you're as full as you can imagine? Perhaps nauseous, bloated, swollen, fatigued, or even feelings of shame or guilt.
After your next meal, ask yourself where you are at that exact moment on the scale of 0 to 10. What did you notice about your body that caused you to choose that number?
Using this mindful exercise that promote can help you tune into your own hunger and fullness cues. While this is just one aspect of the mindful eating approach, it does help us pay attention to how much we are eating, helps prevent overeating, and helps us avoid allowing other things to override our fullness cues.
You're Only as Full as You Expect to Be: MedlinePlus Health News. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_168260.html