We are constantly surrounded by messages about food. These are often designed to make us buy and ultimately eat more. Places that sell food are everywhere.
Commercially prepared foods are highly processed, high in sugar, high in salt and are cooked with unhealthy fats that trick our taste buds into wanting more.
Research shows that eating highly processed foods may affect signals and promote further eating. However, we can adopt strategies to tune out the messages and tune in to our nutritional needs. A study published by Harvard University suggests the following steps to help us eat appropriate food sizes:
Pay attention to your food, so that you take stock of what you’re eating. Eat at the table without any electrical distractions. Research shows that visual stimulation, during a meal increases the amount of food we eat. Eating attentively without distractions, can influence food intake and is one of the simplest approaches we can actively take to prevent overeating.
Have a technology free lunch when you’re at work. Leave your desk and take a break from the computer and mobile phone. This can be seen as a chance to reduce time spent sitting, whilst boosting our physical health. It’s also a chance to give our mind a break to simply enjoy our meal.
It’s a fact that sugar and salt stimulate taste buds, so it’s easy to overeat on sweet and salty food products, which are highly processed. As we begin to cut down on highly processed foods, our palate will also begin to adjust, so that over time we’re satisfied with far lower amounts of sugar and salt. We must also learn to chew our food properly. The more we chew our food, the less food we will consume.
Eating when we’re hungry sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? But many of us will eat for reasons other than hunger; the obvious reasons include being bored, anxious and living with stress.
When tempted to turn to comfort food for emotional reasons, ask yourself if you’re really hungry, because the chances are you’re actually not. Teaching ourselves to ‘purposefully pause’ can help us become more mindful and less stress-driven, around food.
It is important not to go shopping for food when you’re hungry. Research has shown we buy more food and snack food when we do. Taking a grocery list with us enables us to stick to what’s ONLY on our list.