Pizza, Cookies, and the Importance of Being a Mindful Eater

There is a fascinating little study out this week in the journal Appetite, which was also highlighted in a piece in The Economist.  What the study found was that dieters, when they felt they were given a larger piece of pizza than other people were for lunch (pieces were actually the same),  were more likely to eat more cookies afterward than the others were.  While it’s hard to pin a motivation on exactly why this was, one explanation is that the dieters felt the perceived larger piece of pizza pushed them off their dieting program, which then opened the “might as well” flood gates when it came to eating cookies afterward.

There are a number of possible conclusions to draw from this study when it comes to battling the current obesity epidemic — all of which would be little more than conjecture.  But, it does highlight the very complex problem we’re dealing with it comes to weight gain and weight loss and the important role that external influences can have on our internal cues to eat.

With the food industry spending millions to get us to eat more and more food (most of which is unhealthy), it’s important to do what we can to listen to our bodies and understand when we’re truly hungry and when we’ve eaten enough to feel satisfied but not bursting.  It seems like a simple thing but this small study and the growing numbers of people who are overweight and obese tell us its not.

Try these simple steps to get in touch with your internal cues and keep your weight in check:

  • Exercise, exercise, exercise.  Being active is one of the best ways of controlling weight.
  • Go Mediterranean.  A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy oils (like olive oil) can make you feel full,  help regulate your appetite, and actually taste really good
  • Choose smaller portions and eat more slowly.  Slow down and give your body a chance to feel full before you move on to seconds.
  • Be a mindful eater.  Food is big business, and their main goal is to get you to eat.  Try to listen to what  your body is telling you, not what the food business wants you to hear.  

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