Do you stop eating when you are full?

November 22, 2012 BY: LISA

Here’s some more great information from Brian Wansink’s book and research on “Mindless Eating- Why We Eat More Than We Think”.(Wansink; Hay House,2010)

We don’t stop eating when our stomach is full except in extreme cases- like Christmas day-after dessert, or perhaps second helpings of dessert! Wansink states that scientists don’t really know what makes us feel full but it could be a combination of:

• How much we chew
• How much we taste
• How much we swallow
• How much we think about food
• How long we have been eating.

What it comes back to is the faster we eat, the more we eat. Consider when you eat a big salad, there is a lot of chewing involved and it takes a long time compared with a hamburger which some people can wolf down in 6 mouthfuls. Slowing down your eating and chewing more are definitely helpful for eating less.

Wansink’s research has found that the stomach has three settings:
1. Starving
2. I’m full but can eat more
3. Stuffed full

Recall those evenings when your stomach was definitely full and then someone says,”Who wants dessert?” and up goes your hand! This second level is the most common one for the stomach to be in and definitely poses the most problems for weight loss/maintenance, as there is always room for more. The question is, “What makes you stop eating?”

Wansink argues that for most people the trigger to stop eating is when you have finished everything that’s on your plate. He speaks of us needing to have a visual cue to determine when we will stop eating rather than continually asking ourselves “Are we full yet?” So we dish up what we think we will eat and then devour it without stopping to ask if we are still hungry. He likens this to a runner who says I will run to a set point and back instead of asking constantly “Am I tired yet? Am I tired yet?” So you can see this works for the runner but does it work for the person who is trying to lose weight or to maintain a weight loss? Probably not.

In fact the French Paradox identifies one of the reasons that French women don’t get fat when they eat a number of high fat foods is that the French tend to stop eating when they are full rather than when the plate is empty.
I had a client tell me of two French students who were staying in Australia recently and commenting on the size of our meals- stating how large they were. Perhaps this is the problem, we dish up what we think we need and eat it all- relying on the empty plate to tell us we have had enough, instead of having a smaller portion and eating more if we are still hungry. This taps into one of my other posts considering whether our eyes are bigger than our stomach? It seems so.

The take home message:
If you are trying to lose weight then consider slowing down your eating, chewing more and taking note of your hunger levels throughout the meal. Your mission is to make the meal last for 20 minutes to give your stomach time to talk to your brain. If you notice that you are quite satisfied and only two-thirds the way through the meal, stop eating. If that is too hard as the cook at your house is too good then take note for the next meal that you can dish up less and still be satisfied- this leads to weight loss.

Enjoy!…just not too much
Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)



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    March 20th, 2013

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