How many food decisions do you think you make in a day?
According to a study done at Cornell University by Dr. Brian Wansink, the average American thinks that they make about 15 food choices a day, but in reality we are actually making more than 200 food choices every day. Yes, 200+ food choices every single day! According to Dr. Brian Wansink, “It’s the small things around us that influence the 200 plus food and beverage decisions we make every day. It’s family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.” Most of us do not overeat because we are hungry, we overeat because we are not listening to external cues telling us we are full. For instance, overeating while in a social setting, say happy hour, is easier than overeating when sitting down at the dinner table at home. Getting lost in a conversation, a television show, or work can distract you from listening to brain cues telling you that you’re full. By paying attention to your surroundings and being AWARE of what you are eating can either make or break your pant size. Here are a few simple substitutions to avoid filling up and overeating:
- Change your everyday plate size. Our everyday dinner plates look more like platters now and our salad plates are looking like a dinner plate should. By changing the size of your plate, you can actually trick your brain in to thinking there is more food in front of you then there actually is, helping to keep portion sizes in check. After you finish one plate, think about if you feel hungry before you go back for more. This way you are conscious of the amount of food you are consuming.
- Set the fork down in between bites and drink water. Simply by extending the length of your meal time, you can consume fewer calories. Setting the fork down and sipping water in between bites can lengthen the time of the meal and give your brain time to update your stomach that you are eating and send signals that you are filling up.
- Ditch the TV at dinner time. As many of you know, A TON of eating can take place in front of the television. It’s extremely easy to lose track of how much food you have consumed when you’re staring blankly into a screen. Whether you’re eating a snack or a meal, flip the TV or computer off and focus on what you are eating.
- Cut the portion in half when out to dinner. If you go out to dinner with friends or family, think back to that salad side plate you have swapped to at home. How much of that food you just ordered would fit on that plate at home? Typically, it’s about half of what you ordered. Get your mind set right before you make it to dinner and eat until your are comfortable. Don’t get so full that it’s hard to get the seat belt on when you get in the car. Keep the leftovers for lunch the next day and you just saved yourself calories and a few dollars.
Start simple with these few substitutions to make you aware of your settings and how much food you are actually eating.