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Why We Eat the Foods We Do

Understanding what drives your food decisions can help you make healthier choices

3. Eating With Your Eyes

It''s not uncommon to be disconnected to your hunger center, and to instead ""eat with your eyes."" Sometimes, wanting to eat something is all about how yummy it looks.

Why do you think they push around dessert carts? Most people are full after dinner, but one look at the decadent desserts and they give in -- and it has nothing to do with hunger or fullness.

4. Cost and Convenience

Cost and convenience also weigh heavily in our food choices. Time-saving food choices are a major factor for anyone with limited time for shopping and cooking. But expenses can add up quickly when you rely on restaurant, takeout, and convenience foods.

The good news is that you can stretch your food dollars even when you're crunched for time. Quick-serve restaurants abound; you can always find a nutritious soup, salad, or grilled chicken sandwich that won't sabotage your diet.

You can also pick up convenience foods at any grocery store that allow you to whip up something "halfway homemade" and have a meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.

5. Personality Type

Each of us is different, and how we approach change varies with our personality types. Some WLC members prefer the flexibility to move foods around to accommodate hunger and changing schedules. Others want a specific detailed list of foods to eat and avoid. Some people simply need to stay the course exactly; left with too many decisions, they overeat.

Knowing your "diet personality" will offer insight into why you make some of your food choices. Ultimately, you decide which approach works best to help you control the type and quantity of food you consume.

6. Too Many Choices!

My mantra is "never go to buffet restaurants." No matter how hard I try, I end up wanting to sample "just a bite" of virtually everything on the buffet. I end up eating way too many calories, when quite frankly, I would have been just as satisfied with a soup and salad.

Studies suggest that the greater the variety of food offered, the more we tend to eat. Add more choices, and consumption increases by an average of 25%. In contrast, monotonous meals don't usually lead to overeating.

Maybe it's just a matter of curiosity. Keep the variety of foods at any particular meal to a minimum, and it may help you resist the temptation to overeat.

7. Social Settings

Typically, we eat more when we eat meals away from home and in the company of others. Some studies suggest that the size of the meal we consume increases with the number of people at the table.

Likewise, when you dine with health-conscious friends and family, you are influenced to eat more nutritiously. Do yourself a favor, and, whenever you can, surround yourself with people who value healthy cuisine.

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