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Three Easy-to-Make Mistakes that Cause Even Healthy Eaters to Gain Weight
Darya Rose, Ph.D is the author ofFoodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dietingand creator of the award winning blogSummer Tomato.
While it may feel like you’re always making conscious, deliberate decisions about what you eat, the truth is all of us are influenced dramatically by factors we’re not even aware of. You’ve probably heard that the size of your plate can subtly nudge you to eat more (or less), but there are dozens of other triggers that can push even healthy eaters away from making good choices.
Here are three super common habits that may be sabotaging your efforts to eat less:
1. Not sitting down to eat
Remember Pavlov’s dogs that start drooling when they hear a bell that signals food is coming? We aren’t so different. When you sit down at a table with a plate of food, it sends an unconscious signal to your brain that you are about to have a meal. This starts a cascade of hormones that prepare your body to digest food.
If you make this a habit, when you get up from the table, your brain will believe the meal is over. You will stop expecting more food and feel satisfied with what you already ate. In contrast, when you’re standing and eating at the counter or from a bag, your brain is content to keep grazing, which leads to overeating.
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2. Not chewing your food thoroughly
It is shockingly easy to just shovel food into your mouth without ever slowing down to chew it thoroughly. This is especially true of chronic dieters and people who are used to eating a lot of processed foods.
When you slow down and chew your food, it prompts you to eat more mindfully. The food stays in your mouth longer, so you can better appreciate the flavors.
As a result, people who chew more report enjoying their meals more and naturally eat less, without noticing. It’s portion control without willpower or deprivation.
MORE:Want to Lose Weight? Stop Doing This.
3. Not eating at regular times
Another powerful force in determining when and how much you want to eat is your body’s biological clock. When you naturally want to wake, sleep, and eat are determined by hormones in your body that fluctuate throughout the day. These are called circadian rhythms.
Light in your eyes and food in your stomach are the strongest factors that set these circadian rhythms. Eating meals at approximately the same time each day can help train your brain and body to want food at the appropriate times and in the ideal amounts. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time each day also helps.
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