Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Smaller Plate to Smaller Weight

I just lost ten pounds in four weeks.  Guess what?  I didn't do any extra exercise to lose it.  I am recovering from minor surgery and can't perform my normal activites.  It was strange for me not to walk or do strength training since I am used to exercising almost every day.

I had to figure out a way to keep my weight down while I was convalescing. I decided to read another weight control book after finishing "The End to Overeating" by David Kessler.  "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" by Brian Wansink was a slight departure from Kessler's book but not by much.  Wansink has a knack for describing our eating behaviors.  In his research he found eaters have a hard time judging food portions because of oversized containers.  Wansink also determined that Americans overeat because of easy access and overabundance of choices with food.

I believe the food industry needs shoulder some of the blame, yet we have to be accountable for our own wayward habits.  As I mentioned before, I was an active member of the "Clean Your Plate" club.  I would finish eating whatever was on my plate.  I would tune out my taste buds and just ladle in the food.  Unfortunately, this meant I would eat foods that I didn't really enjoy.

I decided to do something about this.  Michael was willing to purchase smaller plates and bowls.  The kids at first were scratching their heads over this.  They asked, 'why do we have to eat on baby plates?' or 'weren't the old plates still good to use?'  I knew this confused our kids but I hoped they would get accustomed to it.  Wansink's research showed that test subjects ate 28% more food when their plates were bigger.  For some reason, using scaled down plates helps us feel full with less food.

Wansink also found that larger groups at the table cause people to eat faster.  This is the food scarcity syndrome.  Large families only have so much food to go around so each family member needs to consume their meal quickly before all the food disappears.  This conflicts with sensing satiety.  It takes about twenty minutes for our brain to sense that our stomach is full, so it is important to eat slowly.  Wansink recommends being the last person at the table to start eating.  He also suggests to pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table.  Natalie is a poky eater so I try to eat as slow as she does.

He also recommends leaving food on your plate.  Making small changes, by eating less food can add up to large weight loss.  I have to admit, I eat less protein now.  I do consume more vegetables (at least half my plate) and less starches.  I do like feeling pleasantly satisfied without feeling stuffed.

My next challenge is to be consciously aware while eating.  I think I tend to focus on filling my stomach rather than tasting my food.  I found another book that centers on mindful eating.  I'll let you know how that helps me.  Till then, I will keep an eye on my share of food.

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink