Food Is Not Your Enemy


Do You Suffer From “Portion Distortion”?
May 25, 2016, 8:54 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Restaurants, Water, weight loss | Tags: , ,

The more meals we eat outside of our homes, the more food we’re likely consuming. Why? Because restaurants give us huge servings of food—enough to feed a family of four sometimes. We get so used to these serving sizes that they start to feel normal. That’s when we hit peak “portion distortion,” where we’re only satisfied by eating overly large amounts of food.

The Perils of Supersizing

Eating too much food in one sitting is hard on your body. Here’s why:

  • Overdosing on too much food at one time causes pain, upset, and sluggish digestion.
  • A surge of glucose is released into your blood. Your pancreas has to work overtime, pumping insulin through the body to absorb all that extra glucose. This can make you feel spacy, weak, irritable, or headachy.
  • Thinking there is some type of emergency, your adrenal glands go into “fight or flight” mode and release adrenaline and cortisol, which is the body’s natural response to stress.
  • When your blood sugar levels finally plummet, you experience cravings for more food–specifically simple carbs or sweets.
  • Research has found that immune system function is affected for at least five hours after consuming large amounts of simple carbohydrates.

6 Tips to Kick Portion Distortion

  • Cook and eat at home more. We never serve ourselves the amount of food restaurants do.
  • Don’t over-order–go for salads, soups, and appetizers, which are typically more reasonably sized than entrees.
  • Choose high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains to keep you feeling full and energized.
  • Chew well to aid digestion and give your brain time to register you’re full before you overeat.
  • Get enough water. Often we mistake thirst for hunger.
  • Carry your own snacks so you’re not tempted to grab pizza or a candy bar when the 4 p.m. munchies hit you. Stock up on snack-sized containers and fill them with baby carrots, popcorn, or nuts.


Holiday Overeating and Family Drama: The Role of Forgiveness
December 16, 2013, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Have you ever downed an entire package of chips, crackers, or cookies? Ate mashed potatoes or cake until you felt sick? Drank more eggnog or wine than your body wanted?

Do you remember how you were feeling at the time?

I ask because sometimes we overeat to distract ourselves from difficult emotions we may be experiencing. Think about it–have you noticed that sometimes when you overeat you’re not hungry at all? What you are is lonely, or angry at your mother, or sad, or resentful, or frustrated, or something else.

It’s way more effective to address your uncomfortable feelings directly rather than trying to cover them up with food, food that you’ll likely wish you hadn’t eaten very soon after eating it. One of the ways to deal with these feelings is to forgive—yourself as well as others.

Forgiving is not easy, even for the most enlightened among us. If you’ve been allowing yourself to be controlled by past or present hurts, think about forgiving. These steps can help:

  • Talk to sympathetic friends and family. Chatting with others is tremendously comforting.
  • Write a letter to the person you’d like to forgive. You can decide whether or not you send it.
  • See the situation from the other person’s perspective–your own perspective may change.
  • Don’t forget to forgive yourself. Sometimes we can be harshest with ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up about overeating at a holiday party—it won’t help you with your weight or health goals; it will just make you unhappy.
  • Understand that you are responsible for your own attitude. Don’t let holding a grudge hold you back in life.

Forgive and watch how much better your relationship with food becomes.

Happy holidays to you! 



What External Cues Can Make Us Overeat?
October 18, 2011, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Sweets, weight loss | Tags: , , ,

People overeat for all kinds of reasons. The food is delicious. We’re stressed. We’re bored. We’re “numbing out.” But we also may be overeating for entirely external reasons, reasons we don’t even realize exist.

Take the “stale popcorn study,” conducted by Brian Wansink, who heads the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. In this study, people were given terrible, Styrofoam-stale popcorn to eat at a theater. They had all eaten dinner just before arriving. The study found that people ate 34 percent more popcorn–bad popcorn, mind you–if it came in a larger bucket. Similarly, in a separate study, subjects given soup in an automatically refilling bowl ate 73 percent more than those given a regular bowl of soup.

The point? That the amount of food we eat can very much depend on how much food is put in front of us. This is why it’s such a problem to eat out at restaurants or buy takeout several times a week. Restaurants serve enormous portions–and chances are, you’ll eat way, way more food when you’re in the restaurant than you ever would at home, simply because so much was served to you.

Other interesting findings from Wansink, as discussed in Nutrition Action Healthletter:

  • Secretaries ate five more Hershey’s kisses per day if a candy bowl was placed on his/her desk vs. six feet away. That translates to 11-12 pounds of extra weight gain over the course of a year. Secretaries who got a clear candy bowl ate two more candies per day than those who got an opaque bowl.
  • People bought 27 percent more food at a cafeteria when more descriptive names were given to the entrees (“Italian Pasta” was changed to “Succulent Tuscany Pasta,” “Chocolate Cake” was changed to “Belgian Black Forest Cake,” etc.).
  • Men ate 29 percent more if a serving dish was left on the table vs. on the kitchen counter. Women ate about 10 percent more.
  • People sitting with someone eating very quickly ate significantly more calories than if they were paired with someone eating very slowly.
  • At an all-you-can-eat Buffalo wings restaurant, people ate 28 percent more wings if the bones were regularly bussed from the table instead of being left there.

Cultivating awareness about these issues can certainly help matters, but so can eating at home more. So can using smaller plates, and putting your healthiest food in a visible, easy-to-reach area, and leaving your serving dishes in the kitchen. Every little change like this can make a big difference when it comes to your weight.