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Eating Behaviours and Weight Gain

People who eat rapidly are twice as likely to be overweight.

A recent study revealed that people who eat rapidly are twice as likely to be overweight than those who eat more sensibly. It was also found that people who eat quickly and eat too much are three times as likely to be overweight. And the link between eating speed and overweight remained regardless of the calorie intake from the food itself.

The study identified a variety of eating behaviour that can promote weight gain including eating quickly, eating because of emotional cues such as stress or depression, eating on the run and eating unplanned meals. If any of these behaviours sound familiar, you may wish to try these practical tips:

Learn to distinguish between physical hunger (where your stomach is rumbling and you physically need to eat) and psychological hunger (where cues such as emotions, settings, social occasions and sights and smells of food encourage you to eat). Physical hunger is a useful and appropriate cue to eat - psychological hunger is not.

Allocate 20 minutes for main meals and 10 minutes for snacks. Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls and increase the number of times you chew each mouthful. Put a jug of water on the table and drink water throughout the meal.

Limit your eating to a specific room such as the dining room or kitchen. Sit down and enjoy your meal so your brain has time to register that your stomach is full

Plan your main meals so that they comprise of ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrate and ½ vegetables, New Leaf  Healthcare sells a Diet Plate to help with portion control.

Portion Sizes

If a big portion is put in front of us, we are likely to eat the whole lot. With so much food available to us and increased portion sizes it can be particularly difficult for us to exercise restraint. Some tips for overcoming the tendency to overeat are:

  • Learn to recognize feelings of being full and stop eating
  • Avoid placing dishes on the table as they encourage second helpings
  • Remove any leftovers as soon as possible after eating
  • Don't use large plates. If you do, you don't cover them with food.
  • Consider buying diet plates to help.