'Why Am I Fat?'
8 reasons you may be eating too much.
You're stuffed after a big restaurant dinner -- but then the dessert cart
rolls around, and you just have to order that gorgeous chocolate mousse.
Or you're munching from a big bag of chips while checking emails, and when you
look up, the bag is empty. Sound familiar?
Environmental factors -- like package size, portion size, the variety of
food you're served, and the size of your plate -- can influence your eating
more than you realize, experts say. Indeed, if we always ate only when we were
really hungry and stopped when we were full, there would be no obesity epidemic.
The key, experts say, is to become more aware of these causes of overeating,
which can help you resist the temptations and avoid weight gain.
"Once you become aware of the environmental cues that can sabotage your
diet, you can react accordingly and make smart decisions," says nutrition
expert Susan Moores, RD. Simple things such as bringing tempting snacks into
your house, moving the candy jar at work out of sight, making fruits and vegetables more visible in your
refrigerator, and eating more deliberately and slowly, can cut down on
overeating and help you lose weight, Moores says.
Here are eight factors that can cause overeating and weight gain:
1. Sights, Sounds, and Smells
Overeating can be triggered by the alluring smell of bacon cooking, the
sound of popcorn popping, advertisements for junk food, and so on. "You are
influenced by your surroundings, and our studies show these kinds of cues
result in eating more food," says Cornell University researcher Brian Wansink,
PhD, author of Mindful Eating.
2. Distracted Eating
"Eating amnesia" is the act of almost unconsciously putting food in your
mouth, usually from a big bag or bowl while sitting in front of the television,
reading a book, checking emails, or during happy hour.
It's also easy not to register the tastes you take while cooking, or those
last few bites from the kids' plates that you finish off.
Multi-tasking can lead to overeating because you're not paying attention to
what you are eating. When you eat more mindfully, you really taste the food --
and are more likely to feel satisfied sooner. "Food should touch more of your
senses to be satisfying, instead of just filling in the hole," Moores says.
3. Food, Food Everywhere
Everywhere you turn, there are opportunities to eat -- at drive-through
restaurants, vending machines, even gas stations. And when food is in front of
us, we tend to eat more of it, experts say.
Wansink and colleagues found that when candy was easily accessible on
workers' desks, they ate an average of nine pieces a day, and didn't realize
how many they ate. But when the candy was kept in their desk drawers, they ate
about six pieces per day. And when they had to get up from their desks to reach
the candy six feet away, they only ate four pieces.
Curb your instinct to overeat sweets and snacks by moving them out of sight
-- and putting more healthful foods into plain view. Resist the urge to splurge
on unhealthy foods by carrying your own healthy snacks.