Healthy Eating

The Secret to Eating Perfect Diet Portions

Trio of Ice Cream and Sweet Sundae - ingimageEver scarf down a giant platter of food and think, “Why did I just eat all that?!”

You’re not alone. Eating perfect diet portions is a skill few have mastered.

Eating until full (instead of comfortably satisfied) is a great way to feel like you have a bowling ball in your stomach — and eventually, look like it too.

Consuming an excess of calories causes the body to store ‘em as fat (not rocket science, I know). But add to those extra calories a sluggish feeling after every meal — the kind that sends you to the couch, not the gym — and you’re probably getting even more “padding” than you bargained for.

Yet so many of us overdo it at mealtimes. We often don’t realize it until it’s too late, and the cycle repeats itself every day.

So the real question is: why do we overeat?

And the real answer is: it’s mental.

That is, we eat with our minds rather than our bodies. We use preconceived notions — not physical cues — to guide our forkfuls.

What we think we should eat to be nourished and satisfied is influenced by:

  • Cultural meal times: when people think they must get all their calories in 2-3 meals a day, they’re likely to eat past full at those meals
  • Overestimating hunger: if you’re starving, you’ll dish up double and eat at turbo speed, assuming that your poor empty stomach needs an extra helping (it doesn’t)

But wait, there’s more. On top of these rules, how much we eat is further dictated by our minds via two funny misconceptions.

Myth #1 is that we should we eat until we feel full. (Does a goal to stretch our guts to the limit really make sense?)

Myth #2 is that when something tastes good, we’ll get more satisfaction by eating more. Cornell’s food lab has disproved this time and again.

In a 2013 study, they found that, indeed, we eat mostly out of perceived, rather than actual, satisfaction. A bite of something delicious can bring as much pleasure as ten bites. Further, they say that a small snack can fill us up more than we expect — and smaller portions can actually lead to a decline in hunger.

Hmm… contrast that with devouring a big serving of something tasty, only to get a physically heavy feeling and an extra dose of guilt to make us feel worse.

The tendency to eat regardless of what our body wants is clearly a culturally-ingrained phenomenon. But the fact that the above are all myths is good news!

It means we don’t need to give up food enjoyment in order to lose weight. (Sayonara yo-yo dieting.) Instead, we need to ditch some old habits and perceptions.

Many would argue that changing HOW you eat is harder than changing WHAT you eat, since it’s unconscious. But with the right tools, an uphill battle can become a downhill breeze.

Changing eating patterns alone has a HUGE improvement on body shape and energy level. Learning to eat until satisfied (not full) is one of the three behaviors that melt weight off. The other two are eating 5 meals a day and adjusting your eating pace.

How to cash in on these virtual weight loss freebies? It’s explained in IdealShape’s book, “Think: Use Your Mind to Shrink Your Waistline.”

In the book, David Meine teaches you how to pinpoint hidden habits and get your ‘autopilot mode’ working with you instead of against you. The book focuses on the 10 behaviors that have the biggest impact on weight loss, and illuminates the psychology behind creating positive habits that stick.

Curious? Learn more about “Think” here, or go ahead and buy the book right here. It’s now available on audio too!

By the way, if changing your eating habits is your #1 priority, you may want to grab the brain training CD for Eating Habits. Listening for 28 days is all it takes to create those three eating behaviors mentioned above!

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Chelsea Ratcliff

Chelsea Ratcliff

Writer and expert

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