3 Tactics to Prevent Overeating
What's the best way to keep from binging?
3 Tactics to Prevent Overeating
So what do the experts say? As I see it, most subscribe to one of three
- The "out of sight -- out of mind" group.
- The "absence makes the heart grow fonder" believers.
- Those who fall somewhere in the middle.
Here are comments from some of those who believe in the "out of sight,
out of mind: philosophy:
- "One of the most powerful factors that determine the amount you eat is
how much food is placed in front of you," David Levitsky, PhD, a professor
of nutrition and psychology at Cornell, tells WebMD. He points to published
data that showed that if you eat while blindfolded, you consume significantly
less than when you can see your food.
- Kelly Brownell, PhD, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and
Obesity at Yale University, says that most programs – including Yale's --
recommend that people limit exposure to favorite foods as much as possible to
- Susan Roberts, PhD, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts
University says studies at Tufts suggest that "out of sight" is helpful
for some people. "Having things around you just keeps temptations more
firmly in your mind," she tells WebMD.
- While "out of sight, out of mind" is the best policy, there's a
difference between keeping a food out of the house and making it forbidden,
notes Marlene Schwartz, PhD, research director for the Yale's Rudd Center for
Food Policy and Obesity. "The key is that you aren’t saying that ice cream
is evil, but rather that it is best enjoyed under certain circumstances, and
those circumstances make it easy to control portion sizes and frequency,"
she tells WebMD. In other words, it's OK to go to that ice cream shop every
week or so.
Here's what some of the "absence makes the heart grow fonder"
believers had to say:
- Her experiences during 13 years of working with severely overweight people
have convinced her that forbidding favorite foods increases cravings for them,
says Chantal Gariepy, RD, CDE, a dietitian and diabetes educator with the
Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, Calif. Avoiding favorite foods as
opposed to simply tasty or pleasurable foods – is in a way, avoiding
responsibility. "It is a juvenile (vs. mature) approach to eating." She
says the mature approach to eating requires developing food skills such as
mindful eating, hunger and fullness recognition, portion size evaluation, and
the ability to calm yourself.
- The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME) acknowledges that favorite foods can
be the most challenging foods to eat mindfully because these foods
"call" to us whether they're in front of us or not. According to TCME,
learning to eat mindfully, to fully savor each bite without eating past a
comfortable level of fullness, provides a deeper sense of control. "A
mindful eater would also be aware, in a neutral way, of the frequency and
craving for a 'favorite' food, as well as reflect on the health consequences of
that particular food, and in doing so, would balance their choice of these
foods with their nutritional needs," TCME says in a statement. The center
does affirm, however, that the chronic availability of high-calorie foods has
contributed to weight gain -- and says that's something we need to take into
consideration as well.
- Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, LCSW, says that the answer to how to approach
favorite foods is more complicated in adults because we carry within us both
the "child" who wants to eat them and the restrictive "parent."
"To allow the two to come together, we have to give ourselves permission to
have regular access to foods we enjoy and to eat as much as we want,"
explains Satter, a national lecturer and author of Secrets of Feeding a
Healthy Family. But in order to get enough of those favorite foods
without feeling out of control and ashamed of ourselves, we also have to have
discipline, adds Satter: "We need to incorporate those foods in regular,
structured meals and snacks and we have to pay attention when we eat