How to Stop Overeating
Try these tips for getting more satisfaction from fewer calories.
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD
Babies are born knowing to eat when they are hungry, and stop when they are comfortable. But as we grow up and are exposed to fad diets, advertising, food used as a reward, etc., many of us unlearn this beautifully balanced way of eating.
Yet eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are comfortable is one of the keys to healthy eating and living, says Linda Bacon, PhD, nutrition professor at the City College of San Francisco.
Much has been written on the "eating when you're hungry" side of this equation. But how do you learn to stop when you're comfortable if you've lost touch with this over the years?
Experts say there are things you can do to make yourself more likely to stop eating when you are comfortable. They include:
What Makes a Food Satisfying?
Research during the past decade suggests there are three factors that help make a meal more satisfying: the weight of the food, the amount of protein, and the amount of fiber.
A revolutionary study done by researchers at the University of Sydney in 1995 noted that of the 38 foods tested, certain foods scored higher in satiety. Top-scoring foods included whole-meal bread, grainy bread, cheese, eggs, brown pasta, popcorn, all-bran cereal, grapes, porridge, baked beans, apples, beefsteak, ling fish (a type of cod), and oranges. All of these foods are high in fiber, water, or protein.
And which foods tend to have low satiety scores (making them much easier to overeat)? These would be foods with large amounts of fat, sugar, and/or refined carbohydrates, like potato chips, candy bars, and white bread.
'Satisfaction Score' for 20 Common Dishes
So is there a way you can determine how satisfying your favorite foods are likely to be? A mathematical formula calculates a satisfaction score for a food. First we give a serving of a particular food points for its weight divided by calories (multiplied by 4 to give it significant point value). Secondly we, add the number of grams of protein it contains. Finally we add the number of grams of fiber. Using this point system, this is how 20 popular American dishes would rate:
Published April 27, 2006.
SOURCES: Journal of Addictive Diseases, vol23, No. 3. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 1995 49 (9): 675-690. Eating Disorders, Overeating, and Pathological Attachment to Food, Haworth Press Inc., 2004, pp 23-34. Jean Kristeller, PhD, psychologist, researcher, Indiana State University, Terre Haute. Linda Bacon, PhD, professor of nutrition, City College of San Francisco. Mark S. Gold, MD, distinguished professor; chief, McKnight Brain Institute, department of psychiatry and neuroscience, division of addiction medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville.
©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
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