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Many of us would like to be in control of our hunger and eating habits but this "control" if often difficult to maintain. How many times has one of these happened to you?
- That really fit the spot and I'm not hungry but I keep going back for more
- I'm hungry after work/school so I snack while making dinner
- I'll treat myself, but just this once!
- I'll go out to eat becuase this special occation isn't a "everyday" thing
- I feel guilty for eating that.
Understanding the psychology behind our hunger and eating habits can make it easier to get back in control and eat on your own terms. Do you remember everything you ate over the past few days?
Related: How to Cut Sugar From Your Diet
Chances are you don't and it's very easy to forget about the little bites and nibbles you have all day. Sometimes snacking can end up being the greatest source of calories we get! This is because we often participate in "mindless" snacking and these bites quickly add up.
Common Eating Habits
What we eat, how often, and when are often governed largely my our daily habits. Here are the three most common eating habits.
Time Based Eating
Sometimes we eat because it's a certain time of the day, even though we might not even be hungry. Maybe you aren't very hungry at work but you eat lunch at noon because this is when your lunch break is.
When I had a 9 to 5 office job I would eat at noon (even though I wasn't hungry) and by the time five o'clock rolled around I was starving! And then I had traffic to wait through. By the time I got home I would be elbow deep in a bag of chips while preparing dinner.
The solution is simple. Before you eat think about if you are hungry or only eating because your clock tells you too. My problem was easily solved by eating later in the afternoon. I would take lunch around 2pm at my desk and then I wasn't so hungry by the time I got home.
Social eating is huge and is one of the biggest causes we over eat. Social eating puts us in a social setting where you are expected to eat and you are socializing which distracts you from how much you actually eat. One of the most common complaints and difficulty of lose weight is that it can be socially isolating.
Almost all social gathering revolve around food and drinks. Parties, girl's nights, casual meetings, going out for drinks, etc. Most of the time we eat because that is what is expected of us.
- At parties we eat because we don't want to seem rude to the host
- Coworkers go out for lunch and you don't want to be excluded
- Go out with friends for drinks and you are expected to join in
What we eat is also effected by the social setting. If the people around us are eating unhealthy foods we are much more likely to mimic their behavior.
Clean Plate Eating
This is a particular eating habit that I had difficulty over coming. My family grew up not having much. When my family was living back in eastern Europe we lived in a war torn country where food and resources where difficult to come by.
When we moved to the United States we where near the bottom of the social income scale. When it was meal time food was precious. It was unthinkable to leave food on your plate. As I grew up this mentality of cleaning my plate stuck to me. It was a long time before I realized that I felt obligated to eat everything on my plate even though I wasn't hungry.
This is a dangerous habit, especially at restaurants where portion sizes are largely inflated. I over came this issue by starting to use smaller plates. This way less food could fit on my plate and I would eat less.
Portion sizes are much bigger today than they were 50 years ago. Case and point would be the Big Gulp drink size. Restaurants are especially guilty of large portion sizes. A trick I use when I go out to eat is that i only allow myself to eat half of my food. The other half I take with me and eat for another meal.
Eating from larger dishes will cause you to end up eating more food. I recommend investing in some smaller dishes if you are looking for a easy way to lose weight and eat less. This 21 day portion control set is one easy tool to learn about proper portion sizes and it's less than $9!
This doesn't only apply to plates and bowls. Wider cups will cause you to pour more, large eating utensils move more food from you plate to you mouth. This makes eating take less effort so you eat faster and eat larger amounts of food.