A Picture is Worth Too Many Calories
There you are, satisfied after a hearty meal, thinking about what’s left on your to do list, and a monkey wrench is thrown in your plan. You pass a billboard featuring some vision of delectableness in the form of food, and there it is again, while you’re watching TV. Oh and here comes your husband snacking on something, and suddenly that feeling of fullness has left and you’re ready to eat again, hours before you intended. A number of small studies suggest watching what you eat with caution.
Close Your Eyes
Published in the latest issue of Obesity, German researchers studied the effects of the pictures of food on hunger hormones, particularly ghrelin levels which are associated with increased appetite as well as increased caloric intake. The small study of 8 tested ghrelin levels between breakfast and lunch with neutral pictures shown during one session, while food related items were shown in the other. As expected, the difference in the rise of ghrelin levels was significant when pictures of food were shown. While it may seem obvious, try to avoid run-ins with food when you’re not hungry. Skip the trip to the break room, and go the other way when the birthday cake is being passed around. This advice goes for those who know they're not hungry. If you are, consider the calorie count and go for it.
A Matter of Will
Another food photo study found restrained eaters who were exposed to tempting food were less thrilled about going for the healthier options. When exposed to tempting foods, the healthier options literally got weaker responses. This is why nutritionists stress portion control, counting calories, keeping a food journal and making healthier choices, rather than completely cutting out certain foods. You may find yourself feeling deprived if you do, which, according to this study, could lead to giving in to temptation, even when a healthier option is available.
The Wrong Sight Setting
Yet another study compared the assessment of food appeal and desire to eat with 129 subjects. Body Mass Index was positively correlated with desire to eat, yet not with food appeal. What’s more, overweight subjects reported higher ratings of desire to eat larger portions of food. If you're guilty of overeating because of your eyes, trick your eyes. Buy smaller dinner plates and try to limit your first serving to a reasonably small portion. If you’re still hungry, get another small portion of seconds. When out, order a half-portion of your usual dish and eat the leftovers the following day. You might also ask for larger portions of vegetables or leafy greens than may usually come with the dish. This way you indulge the eye, and still save the calories.
What food temptation do you try to keep out of sight?