Some of you may think you already stop eating when you feel full, but unless you are French – think again. Based on research, Michael Pollan says instead of using our internal cues to know when to stop eating most of us “allow external, and usually visual, cues to determine how much we [should] eat.” Think back to your last meal…did you stop eating when your gut told you you’d had enough or when your plate was clean, the package was empty, or the T.V. show was over?
According to Pollan:
Supposedly it takes twenty minutes before the brain gets the word that the belly is full; unfortunately most of us take considerably less than twenty minutes to finish a meal, with the result that the sensation of feeling full exerts little if any influence on how much we eat. What this suggests is that eating more slowly, and then consulting our sense of satiety, might help us to eat less. The French are better at this than we are, as Brian Wansink discovered when he asked a group of French people how they knew when to stop eating. ‘When I feel full,’ they replied. (What a novel idea! The Americans said things like ‘When my plate is clean’ or ‘When I run out.’) Perhaps it is their long, leisurely meals that give the French the opportunity to realize when they are full.
I don’t know about you, but as long as I can remember I’ve been told to “clean my plate.” I am finding that it helps to start off with less food, because it can sometimes be difficult to stop eating an exceptionally good meal when there are only one or two or even three bites left. It wouldn’t be enough food to save or pack up at a restaurant, and I know we’ve all been taught how awful it is to “waste” food. And speaking of eating at restaurants my husband and I have been making an effort to split an entrée as well as a small appetizer since their portions tend to be over-sized here in America.
The key is when you start with less food you can always add more. You may be surprised at how often you don’t feel the need to pile on more…especially if you rest for a few minutes before going back. This is something I’ve honestly struggled with myself ever since I first read Pollan’s book, but I continue to try as hard as I can to not be won over by a delicious meal and instead stay in check by listening to my gut. As Pollan says “Better to go to waste than to waist,” which will “help you eat less in the short term and develop self-control in the long.”
Not to mention “Americans are on average eating 200 more calories a day than they were in the 1970s.” We think this concept of controlling our portions goes hand-in-hand with eating real food because we have personally found that real food is incredibly filling. You truly don’t need to eat as much to get to that “full” feeling as you would with the empty calories that make up highly processed food. But following through on this concept can sometimes be easier said than done – trust me, I know!
- Pay more, eat less.
- Stop eating before you’re full.
- Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
- Eat slowly.
- Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.
- Buy smaller plates and glasses.
- Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds.
- Do all your eating at a table. (A desk does not count!)
- Try not to eat alone.
- Leave something on your plate.