Why do people become overweight? Studies clearly show that most of us eat too much. The wrong foods and lack of physical activity are also to blame. Is there a way to get in shape and still enjoy life? Interesting answers to this question can be found in the field of psychology.
In this article, let's focus on one aspect: food. Researcher Brian Wansink realized - we eat for many reasons, but usually not because of hunger: "Each of us eats more because of what surrounds us. We eat a lot not because of hunger, but because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lighting, shapes and smells, irritability and vascular function. The list is almost endless because it is invisible." We are all slaves to context. We eat because friends are around, because food is free, because it is available, because it tastes good. None of this has anything to do with hunger.
But the good news is that by manipulating the world around us, we can lose extra pounds without even noticing it. What to do? Here are six ways Brian Wansink suggests.
Change what you see.
You don't have to throw all your food in the trash. But you do need to make sure that this food is not all over the place, and is not constantly in your eyes during the day.
Out of sight, out of mind. If candy or cake is on your table, you have to make a heroic effort not to touch it. It may be easy for you to resist at first, but the poisonous thought will grow. An easy solution is to hide the dish in a place where it will be less of a bother to your eyes.
Wansink studied how fat and thin people behaved in the buffets. The fat people sat facing the buffet three times as often as the thin ones. Those who sat facing the food ate much more.
Change what's available
Make eating extra food a problem. Cook minimal meals, use small plates, make sure you have to cross an entire room to get a refill.
Remember the people in the cafeteria? Fat people, on average, sat 16 feet closer to the kitchen than skinny people. Don't work in the kitchen, don't take your food behind your desk.
Skinny event attendees noticed the buffet with their eyes, but they didn't approach it right away. They planned their actions and what they would eat. Seventy-one percent of them walked around the table, looking at what was on it. Only after getting acquainted with the contents did they take their plates and begin to put food on. Fat people behaved very differently. They had no plan, they behaved unconsciously. They immediately went to the table and put on whatever was around.
It is also proven by science (and personal experience) that going to the store when you are hungry is a very bad idea. The amount of money we spend on groceries at such a moment doubles. What's more, it's the bad, unhealthy food we buy when we're hungry. Apparently, we associate it with a quick fix for hunger.
If we are distracted by something while eating, we also eat more. Watching a movie or a show is especially harmful here. We simply forget what and how much we are eating. If you treat your food consumption unconsciously, you eat more.
Reading food labels can be more effective than exercising. One study showed that people who read labels and did not exercise gained less weight than those who did not read labels and did exercise. Again, it's about mindfulness. When we read information, our focus shifts to food (rather than a movie or thoughts about work).
Well-fed people chewed food an average of 12 times before swallowing it. Skinny people did it 15 times. Studies have shown that eating slowly creates a satiety effect much sooner. The signal usually comes after 15 to 20 minutes. How much you eat in that time depends, in part, on how often you chew.
Variety is often harmful
One of the reasons we overeat: we want to try everything. Give people three options and they'll eat 25% more than they would if there was just one dish.
There shouldn't be more than two items on your plate. Lack of variety makes you eat less.
Look in your refrigerator: how much food is in it? Can you cut back on them?
So, you've cut down on variety. But food is not the only thing that affects how much you eat. Your environment is just as important.
Be aware of who you eat with
How much you eat also depends on the people around you. Having lunch with friends? You'll probably eat twice as much as you usually do. The larger the group of people at the same table, the more food you will eat.
If you are dining with chubby friends, you will eat more. If the waiter is plump, you will eat more. Are you a woman and dining with a man? You will eat less and healthier food.
Observe yourself as often as you can. Notice the patterns of your behavior and why you are eating more than you should. Awareness is always the first step to correcting any habit.