Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Feeling Full Sooner and Longer

Weight control is an issue for many folks today, and there are many factors involved. People often underestimate how much food they eat and do a poor job estimating many calories they’ve consumed. Restaurants are notorious for giving their customers more for their money by over-sizing the portions they serve. As a result, the quantity of food placed in front of a diner frequently has little to do with how much a reasonable serving would be. Can you see where I’m heading here?

When all of these facts are combined, it can be very difficult to manage portions unless we’re really aware of our level of satiety. Satiety, the feeling of fullness, is influenced by many things, including digestion, food composition, brain signals, chemical substances in the body, and how the food is eaten. And there is always the chance that the diner will ignore the sense of fullness and keep eating, because the food tastes good or meets a perceived emotional need. I hear this a lot from my weight loss clients.

Still, we have a better chance of managing our intake of food when we take steps to feel full sooner and longer. A common and simple approach is to eat more slowly, taking at least 20 minutes to eat a meal. It takes the brain 20 minutes to reach the message of satiety, so make that your bare minimum eating time. This will also allow you to savor every aspect of the food, enhancing your overall enjoyment.

Another strategy is to alter the content of your meals. Thirty minutes before you eat, drink 16 ounces of water. Start your meal with a high volume, low calorie food, such as a broth-based soup or tossed salad. Protein also tends to be more satisfying for many people than carbohydrates or fats, taking longer to digest. Studies show that these techniques enhance diners’ sense of fullness and result in fewer calories consumed later. (Source: UC Berkeley Wellness Letter October 2009)

My favorite weight control strategy is low density eating. I’ll tell you about that next time.

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