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.
4. Food that's Fast, Convenient, and Inexpensive
Fast-food restaurants on every corner offering inexpensive food also encourage us to eat more and more often. Combo meal deals sound like a bargain, but they are loaded with fat, sodium, and calories.
Also, "when you eat lots of fast food, it all starts to taste the same, and you can become satisfied with a small range of flavors and sometimes it is hard to get enough," says Moores.
To help yourself resist the temptation, work on developing a taste for the subtle, natural flavors of food, suggests Moores.
Dietitians recommend limiting visits to fast-food restaurants to once a week. And, they say, choose the healthier menu options -- like salads and grilled chicken sandwiches -- even if they cost a little more.
5. Portion Distortion
Our idea of a normal portion has become skewed, in part because so many restaurants serve oversized portions. "Giant portions seem to have evolved into the norm, and many people have trouble understanding how much they should eat," Moores says.
To understand what a portion should look like, pull out the measuring cups, and see how your portions stack up against WebMD's Portion Size Plate tool or the standards from the U.S. government's mypyramid.gov web site.