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'Why Am I Fat?'

8 reasons you may be eating too much.
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5. Portion Distortion continued...

Another answer to the portion dilemma is to eat more foods that are less calorically dense. These are foods that contain lots of water and fiber, but not many calories -- like fruits, vegetables, salads, and broth-based soups. Researcher Barbara Rolls, PhD, and colleagues at Penn State University found that it's possible to reduce calories without increasing hunger by eating more of these types of foods.

Mindful eating can help here, too. "Eat slowly, taste the food and become more in touch with what you are eating and how it tastes so you can enjoy it more and start to appreciate satisfaction with smaller portions," Moores says.

6. Giant-Size Packages

You'll find plenty of bargains on mega-sized packages at super-discount stores like Costco or Sam's. But unfortunately, experts say, these giant containers can affect us on an unconscious level and cause us to eat more. Researchers have found that when you eat from a large container, you are likely to consume 25% to 50% more than you would from a smaller package -- especially when you're eating snacks and sweets.

"First, try to get out of the habit of always eating something while you are sitting, relaxing, or watching television," says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Tara Gidus, MS, RD. "Try a cup of tea, glass of water, or chew a piece of sugarless gum. If you want a snack, portion it out of the bag or container or buy smaller packages like the 100-calorie snack packs."

7. Not-So-Dainty Dishware

Researchers have found that we tend to eat more when we're served from larger containers. Wansink and colleagues found that when students were given food in larger bowls, they served themselves 53% more and consumed 56% more than those who used smaller bowls.

When you use smaller bowls, plates, spoons, and cups, you won't feel deprived because the food will look more plentiful, Wansink says. Daintier dishware and smaller utensils can also help slow your eating.

8. Too Much Variety

A buffet restaurant can be a dieter's nightmare. Too many choices encourages having a taste (or more) of everything, and before you know it, your plate runneth over. "Too much variety on your plate at one meal can often mean too much food overall," says Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, director of nutrition at Washington University and past president of the American Dietetic Association.

So use variety to help meet your nutritional needs, but concentrate on the right foods. Eating a variety of foods is great, as long as the foods are low in calories and rich in nutrients -- like fruits, beans, vegetables, broth soups, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

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Reviewed on July 18, 2011

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