How to Stop Overeating

by David Egan

Biscuits

Are you in the habit of eating biscuits with your tea? It might have nothing to do with being hungry!

Do you always snack on popcorn when you’re watching a movie? Or have a few biscuits with a cup of tea? When you are in the habit of eating food in a certain situation, you might find it difficult to break the habit – even if the food you’re eating doesn’t taste good!

But don’t worry. Read this article to the end – you’ll find one simple tip on how to regain control over your eating habits.

Mindless Eating

You might think that you eat according to how things taste, and whether or not you are hungry. Think again.

Many of us end up mindlessly overeating even when the food we’re eating tastes bad. This habitual eating may be one of the causes of obesity.

Researchers from the University of Southern California recently looked at some of the reasons behind “mindless” eating, by carrying out experiments in a cinema. They found that people who usually ate popcorn at the movies ate the same amount whether or not the popcorn was freshly made, or old & soggy!

People who didn’t usually eat popcorn at the movies ate much less stale popcorn than fresh popcorn. For those in the habit of having popcorn at the movies, it made no difference whether the popcorn tasted good or not.

Training Ourselves for Overeating

It turns out that our environment can trigger automatic eating behaviour. When you get used to eating in a certain situation, you “train” your brain to expect food in that situation.

Chances are that when you’re in the habit of eating biscuits during your tea break, you’ll keep munching away even if the biscuits are stale. Hunger doesn’t even come into it – it’s pure mindless habit.

I Keep Overeating – How Can I Stop?

How can we avoid overeating, if we eat when we are not hungry or do not even like the food that we are consuming? If the environment causes you to overeat (and the evidence suggests that it does), what can you do?

You can’t always avoid the environment that triggers your overeating. It turns out that there is one simple way to disrupt automatic eating habits.

Back to our original movie-theatre experiment. When researchers asked right handed people to eat with their left hand (and vice versa for lefties) their eating habits were disrupted, and they ate less of the stale popcorn. Eating with the non-dominant hand seems to help us to pay attention to what we are eating.

So next time you sit down to a cup of tea with your habitual biscuit, use your left hand (or right hand, if you’re a leftie). You might make more mess but you’ll be less likely to overeat! You’ll find more information on how to manage your eating habits on our article on mindful eating.

If you’re in the Shannon area and need help with weight loss, find out more about our services: contact us or give us a call on 087 930 7575.

Photo by: Pink Sherbet licensed under Creative Commons

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