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Stop Overeating At Parties

Written: 12/24/2007


Yesterday there was a huge party for the end-of-year holidays. And as everybody certainly knows the holiday season is a time when our taste buds are often coveted! What better way to have fun and enjoy delicious food with the people you love? Actually the holiday season is the one season where most people tend to put on weight. So to avoid this problem of "weight gain" during festive seasons, learn to recognize the signals of binge-eating.

  • Eating in the company of other people.

    The author of Mindless Eating, Mr Wansink, states that you eat 33% more in the company of another person than what you would eat if you were alone. And the more people there are at the dining table, the more incline you are to consume more food. The reason behind this is that eating with others, generally prolonged the eating time. Just imagine 15 people eating together!

  • Dim Lighting, Party Music

    Actually the dim lighting is conducive to over-eating because it is relaxing whereas the party music incites you to eat quickly because it is a stressor.

  • Food at the tips of your hands

    Some time back we carried out an experiment on the effects of food and weight gain. We placed some candy in a transparent jar in front of 10 students while they were studying and placed some candy in an opaque jar in front of 10 other students. The students with the transparent jar served themselves 72% more than those with the opaque jar. This proves that the mere fact of having food in sight leads to binge-eating.

  • Color of foods

    Again we carried out a similar study as the one shown above. We filled a jar with M&M's which are colored chocolate candies and placed it in front of 10 students. We filled another jar with maltesers which are candies surrounded by a layer of chocolate. Both jars were transparent. The study showed that 27% more M&M's were eaten than Maltesers. This is not because M&M's are tastier than Maltesers. Both are very tasty candies. This is because the wide variety of colors in the jar is an incentive to eat more. Indeed, it seems that even if all candies taste the same thing but are of different colors (as in the case of the M & M candy), we are likely to eat more because there are several different colors, as if we had more different foods to taste.

  • Plate Size

    Even I am not immune from these external incentives! A study that were conducted on me has shown that when I was given a large bowl, I use 31% more ice cream than when I was given a bowl smaller. Even more amazingly, I had no idea I was eating more.

In conclusion, the atmosphere that we create during the holidays, or lights, a large dining table together, music, the type and size of the plates and bowls, with the variety of dishes that we choose, help increase the amount of food we eat, unknowingly.

That being said, is there a solution? Should we modify the environment food during the holidays or attempt to remain vigilant and be satisfied with the resolution of losing excess weight quickly after the holidays?

For the importance of pleasure, if any, linked to the holiday season, I believe we should not modify the environment too, but remain vigilant. As far as calling in January resolutions to eat well, I do not believe in it. I even think that it is the best way to accumulate a lot of pounds too. If you are vigilant to the "external" incentives (I have just described), and you listen to your internal signals of hunger and satiety, the resolutions of January to lose weight will not be necessary.


Ackownledgement: A great thanks to all my friends who were kind enough to take part in these experiments.


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