Bariatric Support Series Video 3

#3: Controlling Overeating With Your Mind

Reviewing our Challenge from Last Session

Last session we talked about the importance of water as the drink of choice for weight loss. Did you notice a difference by following the advice of replacing some other beverages with water and increasing your water intake? Did you have any difficulties? Use the comment box below the video to leave a message and let me know how you did.

Cognitive illusions and Eating Less

The topic of discussion for our video today will be controlling overeating with your mind. Cognitive illusions or mind games are when our eyes send information to our brains and our brains make assumptions based on things we know or understand. They are particularly important to us when it comes to the amount of food that we eat. You may ask yourself, “How do you feel?” Your feelings originate from how you think. This will determine the choices that you make. The choices you make will either influence your health in a positive or negative way. Cognitive illusions can help you make wiser choices even when you do not feel like making dietary changes.

When a plate of food is put in front of you, unconsciously you tell yourself that this is the right amount of food for a meal. If the plate is half empty you probably think you are not getting enough food and you are still hungry when you finish eating. Using a smaller plate and filling it with food is a sure way to eat less without noticing. In the 1960s a dinner plate measured about 9 inches across. Now many plates are 12 inches or more across and so a full plate means a lot more food than used to. When you are served on a larger plate you feel more compelled to finish all of the food even beyond fullness. Take my advice and downsize your plate. Studies show you can eat 80% of the food you would normally eat without even noticing.

Changing Your Perception

This week I want to look at some techniques for making a cognitive illusion work for you instead of against you. The simple shifts in perspective we are about to discuss will help you reduce your portions without feeling deprived. By implementing these principles your overall calorie intake will be reduced and your waist line will benefit. If you want to eat less put your food on a smaller plate. A full plate is a signal to your brain that you have enough food. Consider visiting your local department store or maybe dust off some old china that your grandmother has stashed away or maybe simply use a salad plate for your main entrée. By using smaller plates at home it will help redefine what a normal portion is and help you in your weight loss efforts.

A tall narrow glass may contain less than a wide short glass but you will perceive it as holding more. Height makes things look larger, even when the volumes are the same. Invest in some tall glasses to reduce the amount of liquid calories you are drinking. Even better switch to water or calorie-free beverages. Food on a plate gives you a visual cue of how much you are eating. Food in a bag doesn’t so you are far more likely to overeat from a bag than from a plate. Keep in mind your stomach can’t count. When you eat out of a bag or box it blinds you to how much you are putting in your mouth. Try portioning your food in Ziploc bags or on a plate so you can see the exact quantity you are about to consume. You will be more aware of how many calories you are consuming by implementing this practice.

Mindfulness and Overeating

We can help our brains to control overeating by allowing it to focus completely on the task. Some people call this mindful eating. Here are a few mindful eating tips. Avoid eating when you are distracted. This means you should avoid eating while watching TV, driving or reading the newspaper. Take the time to observe the food on your plate and identify the colors, textures and smells of the food. Extend your meal time to 20-30 minutes. Try setting your fork down between bites. You will soon notice implementing mindful eating will help you feel satisfied and will keep you from overeating. Chewing each bite thoroughly will actually help you fill up on less food. Part of this may be just giving your brain time to register the signals from your stomach that it is full. Try chewing 20-30 times before swallowing. Finish chewing and swallowing before taking your next bite. This will help prevent you from overeating and will give you more time to savor each morsel.

A New Challenge

Now for a challenge. If you are having difficulty with overeating, for the next two weeks, if you are not already doing so, eat all your meals from a salad plate instead of dinner plates. Chew each bite around 20-30 times and eliminate all distractions while you are eating allowing yourself to focus on the taste and sensation of eating. In two weeks we can review your progress and see if this strategy works for you to control overeating. See you then.