When people come to me and discuss weight loss, our conversation inevitably moves from what they are eating to how much. In my previous blog post I talked about the importance of eating a whole food and mainly plant based Mediterranean diet. This month I want to share with you three hacks (backed by science) that have proven to reduce calories consumed per meal.
My first strategy is to stop the mindless eating. Put more simply, remove any devise (TV, tablet, computer or phone) and eat without distraction. New Research shows that when people engage in activities such as watching television, engaging in social media or playing video games at the same time as eating, they tend to eat more and consume greater amounts of protein, carbohydrate, fat and saturated fat according to findings published in “Obesity”.
The researchers found that when participants ate while doing something else during they took in 17.6 more grams of carbohydrates, 6.5 more grams of fat, 6.1 more grams of protein and 2.1 more grams of saturated fat.
The take home message is put down that phone or controller!
Distracted eating leads people to consume more at a meal. The research also showed that there was no evidence for compensating and eating less at the next meal. The result is extra food, calories and energy intake.
My second strategy is to simply eat slowly. Firstly it is an opportunity to connect mindfully with the flavours, textures and aromas of your meal. To truly connect, be present and enjoy! From a physiological perspective, it takes 20-30 minutes to produce the hormone cholecystokinin. Once triggered it tells your brain its time to stop eating. The take home message is to slow down and let your physiology take over!
Finally, hack your environment to nudge smaller portions. Firstly, after serving your meal (but not eating) place all leftovers in Tupperware and place straight in the fridge for future meals. This simple action will mean you are less likely to have seconds. The other nudge is to use smaller plates and bowls. Large plates and large packaging, mean more eating (Wansink, 2006) and they are a form of choice architecture that works as major nudges. Just ask the food and beverage industries!
Currently the most topical strategy for reducing calories is to try an intermittent fast. There is increasing research and evidence into the health benefits, but the science of fasting and helpful hacks will be in my next blog. J
Do you have any other strategies to mange portion control when eating? I would love to hear from you and share your thoughts.